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Science is Beautiful
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Diet Soda, Heart Attacks and Spin
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anatomy meets Gastronomy
Thursday, February 10, 2011

My biggest lab mistake: Autoclaving 101
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
January (4)
2010 (16)
Blogger Profile

Lab Mom

Lab Mom spent 15 years as a Lab Manager in Academia before off-tracking in 2010 to stay at home with her two daughters. She blogs about the juggling act of motherhood and a science career, which encompasses a lot more then the cliche work-life balance.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Views: 384 | Comments: 3
Last by Suzy on Mar 18, 2011, 10:22pm
In honor of St. Patty's I present you with this:

. . . More
Views: 721 | Comments: 4
Last by Lab Mom on Mar 17, 2011, 10:24pm
Is it just me or does one's affinity for science extend beyond the lab and office? I realized the other day, as I was browsing the bookstore for a new fiction book to read on a long plane ride, that my love of all things nerdy has permeated into my entire life. I don't know why it is, but I can't get enough.

I have mentioned before that of my favorite sitcoms is Big Bang Theory,and I am into [loosely] science-based programming like Mythbusters (controls? Who needs stinkin controls?), Mystery Diagnosis (I LOVE that show if I could just get past my hypochondria), House (I learned it is NEVER Lupus), E.R./Grey's Anatomy (where there is clearly a "sex appeal" screening before being hired as a physician), and Dr.G: Medical Examiner (which reminds us that "every body has a story.")

No, I am not so much a fan of science fiction (think space travel or robotics) but more medical thrillers and scientifi . . . More
Views: 2543 | Comments: 3
Last by 27 and a PhD on Feb 21, 2011, 10:15am
I have blogged about it before: I am a visual person. I love the beauty in science.

Frequently you see microscopy** featured as for its artisanship, but National Geographic has proven that the beauty in science goes beyond the microscopic.

Check out a few of the images in their list of the Best Science Pictures of 2010.

3D illustrations of HIV:

. . . More
Views: 751 | Comments: 2
Last by Lab Mom on Feb 18, 2011, 9:42pm
I have noticed this story circulating around my social circles, and I was ignoring the hype (as usual) because I am keenly aware of how the mainstream media loves to spin a good science story.

In case you didn't hear about the newest fear-inducing phobia (Diet Soda), let me just give you a few headlines:

MSN: "Daily diet soda tied to higher risk for stroke, heart attack"USA Today: "Study: Diet soda linked to heart risks"CBS: "Diet Soda, Heart Attack Linked: Is Anything Safe to Drink?"newser:"Diet Soda's Dark Side: Heart Attacks, Strokes"ABC: "Diet Soda: Fewer Calories, Greater Stroke Risk?"The irony here is that when you go on to watch the ABC news clip, their expert actually says "This is one of the worst studies I've seen capt . . . More
Views: 1138 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 11, 2011, 5:16pm
I stumbled upon these cupcakes and I just had to share them.

They say the way to a persons heart is through their stomach, but in this case a heart can actually wind up *IN* your stomach!

I originally saw them on Not So Humble Pie, and she shared the link to the original baker Lily Vanilli. If you want to attempt to make your own you can find the complete instructions here.

If you aren't feeling that bold, you can actually order them directly from Lily herself (20% of the proceeds go to help kids with cancer):

Scarily realistic, each edible heart cake is baked with a delicious red velvet sponge, cream cheese frosting and blackcurrant & cherry 'blood'.A single ʻbleeding heart cakeʼ is priced at £7 and comes in a cute perspex box tied with apink or red ribbon with a personal note.

Available exclusively through this site 20% of the procee . . . More
Views: 40804 | Comments: 9
Last by Shawn Russell on May 23, 2013, 3:58am
I was trying to think back to my biggest lab mistake and although I have had quite a few minor mishaps (mis-loading lanes for a Western blot, not adding the right controls for a Q-RT-PCR) that lead to disastrous scientific outcomes (i.e. repeating weeks worth of sample acquisition), those mistakes aren't as entertaining as the one I have decided to feature.

Let me set the scene. I was working as a technician straight out of my undergrad. I had been with the lab for a few years and one of duties was autoclaving glassware, pipette tips etc. Simple grunt work.

Or so you would think.

During my tenure with this lab we actually relocated our lab space to a brand new building and a few weeks after moving in they installed brand new autoclaves for our department. Ooohh Ahhh. They were state of the art, brand new and shiny (no gross brown stains, nothing oozing out of the seams, no strange odors at start up) and they came pre-programmed with standard dry and wet runs. Pretty dummy proof.

Or so you would think.

I was actually excited to throw in my load of glassware and break in the virgin autoclave. I loaded the beakers and flasks into the . . . More
Views: 470 | Comments: 1
Last by Suzy on Jan 30, 2011, 11:27am
.. And don't piss on my door either.

I couldn't believe it when I read this.. it seems that a couple of math professors from Cal State Northridge are having a pissing match.. literally.

It reminded me of Scio10's "Don't piss on my carpet" civility debate**. Although we can all agree that pissing on a coworker's office door is nothing if not uncivilized. No need for debate.

**here, here, here, here, here, here... etc.

. . . More
Views: 245 | Comments: 1
Last by Suzy on Jan 09, 2011, 1:13pm
I must have been under a rock (and clearly not paying attention to my Twitter feed) because I just realized that the list of finalists for Open Lab 2010 are posted.

There are so many great sci bloggers out there.. and so many fun reads. Too bad there aren't more hours in the day. If you have more time on your hands then I do, you can also check out all 900+ nominees.

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Views: 1470 | Comments: 2
Last by JaySeeDub on Jan 05, 2011, 6:02pm
.. a magentic stir bar system for the stove top. You know.. a glorified hot plate. No more need to stir continuously, just use a stir bar and walk away. Granted, there was that small choking hazard issue, but I was going to work on that.

But now it looks like I'm too late. I've been scooped.

Meet the Robostir

Damn. There goes my shot at millions.

. . . More
Views: 2078 | Comments: 6
Last by Bryan on May 23, 2012, 12:14pm
Over on my personal blog I have been lamenting the fact I live in a 100 year old house and absolutely hate what a money pit it has become. To put in perspective how long ago 100 years really is, I looked up a few facts about life in 1905 (the year my money pit was built) .

"When this house was built Teddy Roosevelt was president, there were only 45 states in the Union, most people still drove a horse and buggy, and milk cost 14 cents per gallon. It was the age of the Victorians. Automobiles, the railroad, radio, the world series, airplanes and indoor plumbing were all in their infancy. Albert Einstein still hadn't finalized the theory of relativity, and William Bateson suggested the term "genetics" for the very first time. The average weekly salary was $12.98 and the average life expectancy was 47 years. Child labor and racial segregation were prevalent and women wouldn't be given the right to vote for another 15 . . . More
Views: 596 | Comments: 5
Last by GMP on Dec 29, 2010, 10:28pm
Yes, it is that time of year again. When we celebrate the holidays with the people we spend most of our waking time with. No, not friends and family who mean so much to us, but those annoying coworkers who stand next to us hour after hour, distracting us from correctly pipetting our RT-PCR reactions and annoying us with questions they should already know the answer to since we have answered them 10,000 times before.

Now I have worked in various labs during my career, and have had multiple PIs with different religious backgrounds and cultural customs and so I have seen a lot of holiday traditions come and go. Some good and some, well, not so hot. Lets review a few now shall we?

1. The Holiday Party:

Oh boy! The annual lab holiday party! The event we either dread and avoid (we find ourselves praying we will be on our family vacation on the other side of the country) or we look forward to because there will be free liquor and come Monday there will be at least one great story of someone embarrassing themselves.

The party styles I have experienced have run from the all-out black tie shin-dig, to a simple lab lunch at a local Chinese food restaurant. When you first join a lab you never know exactly what you are going to get in terms of the holiday part . . . More
Views: 862 | Comments: 6
Last by Lab Mom on Dec 18, 2010, 10:37pm
Big Bang Theory has got to be my favorite show on TV right now. The perfect mix of socially awkward science geeks, potty humor and cheesecake. If you haven't watched it you should give it a chance, at least once. I am convinced if you have anything to do with the sciences you will be hooked, although you don't have to be a nerd to understand it (but sometimes I think it helps!)

The premise is that a pair of role-playing, computer loving, ultra-geeky physicists from Caltech live across the hall from a young, attractive, aspiring actress (okay, really a Cheesecake Factory waitress) who is a relatively "normal" woman. The interactions between the scientists (and their aerospace engineer friends) and the socially competent Penny leads to hilarious conversations and situations. Imagine trying to explain this joke to your neighbor:

A farmer is having problems with the chickens on his farm. He calls his friend who happens to be a physicist and tells him his problem. A few days later the physicist calls back and says "I think I've solved your problem but it invloves a vacuum and perfectly spherical chickens"

Now I usually hate shows that portray scientists as ultra smart, . . . More
Views: 212 | Comments: 0
As I approach my one year blogging anniversay (holy crap!) it is time to look back at 2010. I thought the easiest way to do that was jump on the "12 months of.." meme.

I am copying the guidelines from DrugMonkey, since I think that is the actual origin:
The rules for this blog meme are quite simple.
-Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.

Jan (TTJYEL): There are lots of advantages to being a working mom in the biological sciences versus some boring office or retail gig. (Look at that! I was actually a working mom! It seems like a long long time ago.)

Feb ((TTJYEL): So it begins. 31 days until I have a better blog! (I was a brand spankin' new blogger. This was the first post in my 31 DBBB series)

March (TTJYEL): If you have recently joined a new lab, don't constantly start sentances with the phrase "In my old lab..." . . . More
Views: 607 | Comments: 2
Last by Jennette Green on Mar 18, 2011, 4:02am
In light of my recent bout of an easily preventable illness, the topic of Haiti's cholera outbreak and what can be done to prevent it from becoming an epidemic seems timely.

It appears a debate has started over the effectiveness of a large scale vaccination program and whether or not it is worth attempting. Dr. Paul Farmer's commentary in The Lancet (as well as additional articles in this week's New England Journal of Medicine) pushing for the use of vaccinations is in opposition to the views of the Pan-American Health Organization who feel a vaccination program would be too difficult and costly.

The whole thing reminds me of the "Starfish" story where a little boy is throwing stranded starfish back into the sea, and although there are so many he will knows he will on . . . More
Views: 695 | Comments: 8
Last by Tideliar on Nov 26, 2010, 4:14pm
Yes.. I am alive. I know it has been a while, and I want to apologize to all my LabSpaces cohorts for not stopping by sooner, but I didn't have it in me.

It turns out that I was one of the 17,000 cases of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) reported in the US this year. In case you weren't aware, adults need to be re-vaccinated for whooping cough with a DTaP booster at least every 10 years. (Frequently the Tdap booster is also called your "Tetanus shot" since it is also included along with Diphtheria.)

Unfortunately for me I was not (I thought I had been, but it turns out 10 years just fly by!)

Not only was my oversight stupid, but it was also dangerous. I have small children in my household (fortunately they have both been vaccinated, I'm not THAT stupid), and I constantly come into contact with other small children (some of which have not.) Don't even get me started about childhood vaccinations. If you really want my opinion, you can read it here, but I am not going to rehash that topic.

We aren't just talking about a . . . More
Views: 5473 | Comments: 11
Last by plumbing on May 11, 2011, 8:49pm
An interesting spin off of my previous post about Dinosaur Science Camp was a was in regards to kids clothing and how I don't often see things like bugs, dinosaurs, rockets etc. on clothes marketed to girls (at least not frequently).

Becca pointed out in her comment that there are insects like butterflies and ladybugs associated with little girls, but I stood by my belief that the "creepy crawly" ones like spiders, centipedes and scorpions tended to be reserved for the boys section. The same is true for rockets, dinosaurs, trucks and other typically masculine icons. In general, they are hard to find amongst the racks and racks of pink Princess, Dora, and Hanna Montana adorned girls clothing.

Now yes, in all fairness I could shop in the boys section, but honestly my 4 year old wants to wear the princesses, fairies, ponies and unicorns (Hanna Montana is banned in the LabMom household.) She likes the real 'girlie' stuff. I am not going to fight it.

So imagine my surprise when this little number showed up in my twitter feed this morning, courtesy of . . . More
Views: 1258 | Comments: 12
Last by UnlikelyGrad on Aug 31, 2010, 12:35pm
This summer I enrolled ThePrincess (my 4.5 year old) in a summer science camp at a local children's museum in our area. She is starting to climb the walls and we have a full month until preschool starts up again in the fall.

The camps are designed for children aged 4-6 and are split into 2 week sessions with different specialized topics. Examples of the topics were subjects like rockets/aerospace, botany, zoology, bugs/reptiles, going green/environment, farm animals, big machines, etc.

The session we chose was dinosaurs/archeology.

On the surface it appeared as pretty generic kid-friendly material with a decent science base. They would be making plaster of paris "fossils", digging though the sandbox for shark teeth and trilobites, studying dinosaur skeletons, making paper mache dinosaur eggs etc.

Typical 4 year old stuff. Great. Sign us up!

Never did it cross my mind that dinosaurs would be such a gender specific topic. When we arrived at camp on Monday I was unhappily surprised to find that the camp consisted of 12 boys and 2 girls. ONLY 2 GIRLS! What the hell?

I have heard the unfortunate statistics (and . . . More
Views: 626 | Comments: 4
Last by Lab Mom on Aug 25, 2010, 7:53pm
If you didn't know it already, I'm a craft junkie. If you mix crafty with science, you get true love.

Because I haven't been able to do many crafts on my own lately, I have been living vicariously though others. I epecially love browsing Etsy. If you have never been there you have to check it out. The site features thousands of crafters who sell handmade and vintage items. It is awesome!

For example, look at these great T-shirts from nonfictiontees! Fantastic! And only $15!

. . . More
Views: 403 | Comments: 2
Last by Gerty-Z on Aug 19, 2010, 4:37pm
Not much to say today other than THIS is freaking hilarious.

Although I disagree with the original blogger. In my department someone WOULD brush aside the debris and try to use that sucker. Science cannot wait (even if it means flying shrapnel in your experiment) . . . More
Views: 3234 | Comments: 16
Last by Reymundo on Jan 21, 2012, 1:03am
Today I was listening to Car Talk from NPR, which happens to be one of my favorite pod-casts. (If you live under a rock and don't know what Car Talk is, it is a call-in radio show featuring two hilarious brothers who give car repair advice, along with equal parts harassment.)

What does this have to do with my science blog? Ah-ha! I'm getting to that!

Today's episode featured a caller who happened to be a newly appointed college professor who was seeking advice about what kind of car to purchase. She was currently driving a beat up 1992 Honda Civic Hatchback (sexy!) and didn't think that fit the stereotype of a college professor. She was worried that people would mistake her for a lowly TA or graduate student if they saw her rust-bucket out in the faculty parking lot.

Now, I am not exactly sure what kind of car the stereotypical college professor is supposed to drive, but Click and Clack had their opinions. That is where it got amusing: The Tappet brothers suggested that the type of car a professor drives should be more closely correlated to their discipline and not the mere fact they are a college professor. However there is one cavea . . . More
Views: 577 | Comments: 8
Last by Geeka on Aug 18, 2010, 7:13pm
Nobody likes being crapped on. (I never thought I would ever start a blog entry with that line.)

Nobody likes being crapped on and likewise, nobody likes their car being crapped on. So some clever folks at our local science museum, who clearly had an abundance of Pasteur pipets just lying around, came up with this little device:

If you can't tell from the picture, it is a fluorescent light housing, covered with upward facing Pastuer pipets used to prevent birds from landing. (They were definitely pipets and not solid glass rods, since a few were broken off.)

Very clever. I have seen many spike strips before, but never any made out of pipets. And these were at the SCIENCE museum: Way to submerge me in the true science experience!

I think I am going to make one of these things and stash it in my favorite lab chair.

I am not sure how it is where anyone else works, but in our lab there are only a few decent chairs and I have one of them. However, my beloved chair tends to go missing with some regularity. Clearly just placing my lab coat over the back of the seat isn't enough to mark it as mine. I have even gone so far as to put lab tape on the back of it with MY NAME, but alas, it still seems to vanish.

This is war! It appears . . . More
Views: 280 | Comments: 6
Last by GMP on Aug 20, 2010, 8:11pm
The lovely Dr. O tagged me in this meme that is making it's way around the blogosphere, and so (in typical LabMom style) I am going to do the bare minimum.

Here are the instructions for this meme:
1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.
2. Tag 10 other blogs to perpetuate the meme.

Task 1:
WTF am I doing? I can't believe you're reading! Thanks!

Task 2:
I'm going to tackle this part on my personal blog, and send this meme out into the mommyblog sphere. They have a little more free time on their hands for tasks like this. (Shhh.. don't tell them I said that! *Ducks flying sippy cups*)
. . . More
Views: 1295 | Comments: 6
Last by biochem belle on Aug 10, 2010, 3:47pm
I recently stumbled upon this Scientific American Article about advice Nobel Laureates gave to young scientists about how to succeed in science and in light of the recent work-life balance series I can't resist commenting on it.

Some of the advice in the article was obvious: Know when to throw in the towel, be a good collaborator, be able to tell a good story.. Okay, duh. That is just common sense.

What I was more interested in was the less obvious, something I hadn't heard before, advice that was a little outside-the-box.

From the article:
Make Time for Your Family. “You can’t exist as a scientist without some sort of relationship with other people and family is the most important,” said Smithies. [Oliver Smithies, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007] A particular challenge for experimental scientists is the need to keep their research chugging along without consuming entire weekends. “Maybe pick two hours each day on Saturday and Sunday” to balance the needs of science and home life.

It is refreshing to get the perspective of someone who is considered a success in science (Yes I am defining a Nobel P . . . More
Views: 5531 | Comments: 10
Last by EpiGal on Aug 07, 2010, 8:22pm
Ms. PhD's post at YoungFemaleScientist got me thinking about this article from The Atlantic Magazine.

Reflecting on the fact that women now outnumber men in the workplace Hanna Rossin suggests that it only makes sense given the evolution of the job force in America. As our society develops from manual labor/manufacturing/agrarian nation to a post industrialized one, it appears that the attributes in women (communication, nurturing, flexibility, social intelligence, the ability to focus) open doors to success which were previously closed. The majority of jobs in the US no longer require size nor strength.
It can be found, most immediately, in the wreckage of the Great Recession, in which three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men. The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance. Some of these jobs will come back, but the overall pattern of dislocation is neither temporary nor random. The recession merely revealed—and accelerated—a profound economic shift that has been going on for at least 30 years, . . . More
Views: 1015 | Comments: 7
Last by Lady Scientist on Aug 03, 2010, 7:39pm
In conjunction with many of the other bloggers on Lab Spaces today, I am going to share my perspective on work:life balance, a topic I am familiar blogging about. *grins*

My perspective is that of a working mom. As a lab manager I am fortunate to have a much more consistent work schedule than many other mothers in science, but that does not mean it is is easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are so many things that make it nearly impossible for find true, consistent balance when you are a mother and a career scientist:

The extra financial burden
Finding good affordable childcare
The extra time required when you are responsible for another person/people
The lack of accommodations for things like breastfeeding, sick days, emergency back-up childcare
The fact that science isn't always a Monday-Friday 9-5 job
The constant self-doubt that you aren't doing a good job at home or at work
The feeling that you just don't have it together

And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
But what would I say is the biggest problem I face when it comes to balancing motherhood and a science career?

That is easy: THE GUILT.

Guilt is a common thread that runs though all of those situations. Guilt is the emoti . . . More
Views: 849 | Comments: 6
Last by Evie on Aug 03, 2010, 9:38am
Helllllll-ooooo Lab Spaces! (I've always wanted to shout that.. Makes me feel like such a rock star!)

Like many of the other newest bloggers over here I too have taken the jump from my personal blog to this new home. (I will confess to being on the fence for a while, but finally gave into the peer pressure.) I recognize so many familiar faces over here, I feel like I need no introduction, since I've been harassing most of you for a while now, but just in case you don't know me, here is my spiel:

I'm LabMom, former Lab Manager in a biological science lab at a large public research university. I have recently relocated to a new city and have temporarily off-ramped from my science career in order to stay at home with my kids. That doesn't stop me from blogging about work-life balance, the role of women in science, scientists as role models for our children, and of course, the importance of being nice to your friendly neighborhood lab manager.

I'm thrilled to be a part of this community and look forward to blogging along side the rest of you amazing folks.

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