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Author: LaUra | Views: 1581 | Comments: 4
Last by Suzanne on Jun 05, 2012, 10:01am
Hello! I'll begin by saying a little bit about me and my background, passions, and the type of writing you can expect through this weblog.

Here it goes: I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2009 with three majors: biology, environmental science, and religion from Central Michigan University.Throughout college, I worked in a Plant Systematics laboratory as a research assistant doing lots of cool stuff, like scanning electron microscopy, field collecting, and a variety of laboratory techniques (DNA extractions, sequencing). College was my first introduction to the real world and for the first time, I was exposed to vastness of our current ecological crises. (I was focused on a lot of other things in high school.)

After graduating, I've had the opportunity to travel and hold several random jobs. I'm originally from Michigan, though I have also lived in Louisiana's bayou-region and on the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks (OBX) in North Carolina. Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, I was hired in as a "Gulf Response" Americorps VISTA member. Living about 1.5 hours southwest of New Orleans (in a small community adjacent to the spill), I certainly experienced "bayou culture" and a rich environment that is incredibly imperiled ( . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 2224 | Comments: 4
Last by SiO2lungs on May 27, 2012, 8:36pm
Today I participated in a brain imaging study! I laid in an MRI machine for 45 minutes and looked at pictures of chocolate while smelling chocolate odors. Tough life, right? (Hershey really is the sweetest place on Earth...even in the labs!)



The MRI machine is rather big, rather loud (I wore headphones), and...rather claustrophobic—but it operates on a rather GENIUS principle! My brain was imaged every two seconds; eventually, the images will be overlaid to create a complete picture of my brain, so it was important that I remain very still.

Some of you may have undergone an MRI so a doctor could examine a particular body part due to injury or to diagnose a problem. The MRI machine works on the principle of magnetism; essentially, the images you're seeing are comprised of the nuclei of the atoms in your body.


Pretty cool, huh?

Images courtesy Heart Healthy Women, Space Inspired, and PSU Hershey NMR Center.

. . . More
Author: Evie | Views: 2292 | Comments: 0
SpaceX has had an incredible mission. They completed the preliminary maneuvers near the ISS, and were cleared to go ahead and get close enough to the station for the robotic arm to be able to grab hold of it. This was all successfully done, and the Dragon Capsule was brought in to dock with the station, making history, by being the first ever commercial company to both fly to space and reenter Earth's atmosphere, and berth with the ISS. The mission will come to an end in several days, when the Dragon Capsule will be released from ISS, returned to Earth for a splash down landing in the ocean, and be recovered for reuse.

Success!!! The Falcon 9 launched successfully at 3:44am EST May 22nd. All systems were nominal, stage separation completed nominally, Solar arrays deployed successfully, and the Dragon capsule is now making its way toward the International Space Station. Stay tuned for more mission updates!



Way to go SpaceX!! This is the beginning of a new commercial era in space exploration.

*** Update - The launch was aborted at T-0.5 seconds, due to high chamber pressure in engine #5. Next launch window is May 22nd at 3:44am EST, and another window the following day, May 23rd 3:22am EST. Keep you posted on changes. ***


. . . More
Author: Cynthia McKelvey | Views: 397 | Comments: 0
Hey everyone! I just wanted to write this to explain my absence.

In the last few weeks I left my job at the lab and decided to move back home to Ohio. I did this because I wanted more time to focus on what I really want to do, which is to write about science. The first step in that process, after the move, was to attend the science writer's workshop in Santa Fe, NM. I learned a lot there and came home feeling renewed and inspired. If you are reading this and are interested in getting into science writing yourself, I highly recommend you click that link above and apply to go to the workshop next year.

Over the next year I would like to write a lot more, but hopefully write for publications as well as here on this blog. So I'll be coming back with actual stories and new posts soon! I'm hoping to revise some of my older posts to make them better, too. If you want to stay up to date with me, follow me on twitter @NotesOfRanvier. I'll also be making a page on Facebook soon, too. So be on the look out!

Here are some photos from Santa Fe:



. . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 3051 | Comments: 0
I received an e-mail requesting that I write a follow-up to last week's blog post on multiple sclerosis (MS). I was asked to detail the immune-modulating therapies available for MS patients.

As a neuroscientist, the purpose of my original post was to explain the basic neurology behind the disease: what myelin is, what happens to myelin during MS, and why lack of myelin results in the symptoms that manifest. I also wanted to inform readers of the latest research in the field. My intention was not to leave out information or misinform, but given my lack of knowledge in other fields, I confined the blog post to my expertise.

Today I'll take off my brain hat and (do my best to) trade it in for an immunologist's.

Together, let's explore the therapies out there for those suffering this mysterious disorder.


Types of MS
Firstly, I'd like to outline the four types of multiple sclerosis:

1. Relapsing-remitting (RRMS): 75-80% of patients are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS experience days- to weeks-long flare-ups, or "relapses," followed by periods of no symptoms, called "remission."

2. Secondary-progressive (SPMS): symptoms worsen over time in this type of MS, with or witho . . . More
Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 4694 | Comments: 2
Last by BeckonsAttore on Aug 08, 2013, 9:35am
I hate seeing thick patient charts. They're unweildy, and if you're carrying a stack of them they tend to slide around. Sometimes crap pops ut of them. The pages are held together by brass fasteners, and constantly flipping through pages eventually tears pages. Then you have to use tape to fix the tears. And punch them back through those brass fasteners.

And the absolute worst part is that thick charts are still common. Especially with new patients. Why? Because when a patient moves from one office/hospital to another, and if the new office doesn't use the same exact EMR system as the previous place the digital records can't get transferred over. Not as a digital record anyway. Do you know what happens in that instance? Those records are printed. They don't always get printed at the new office or old office. Sometimes, they're printed at a "Health Information Exchange" which is basically a third party office that prints up digital records. These companies exist solely because they have multiple EMRs and will print all the electronic information to paper. And then mail off stacks of paper. Sometimes giant stacks of paper.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If you can install multiple instances of EMR software on a given system, why can't you just convert files ove . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 1533 | Comments: 0
Montel Williams and 400,000 other Americans face it everyday. Richard Pryor was confined to a wheelchair in the last few years of his life because of it. Symptoms range from weakness to bladder problems to difficulty talking. Indeed, multiple sclerosis, or MS, is one of the most well-known yet mysterious neurological conditions we know about.

MS and myelin
MS is an inflammatory disorder affecting the central nervous system (brain/spinal cord) and its ability for nerve cells to communicate with one another.

Our individual nerve cells (neurons) have a fatty substance called myelin surrounding the long conducting axon fiber. If you picture the axon like an extremely long hot dog, myelin resembles hot dog buns lined up along its length.



Myelin allows neuron communication to occur much more rapidly. Instead of generating action potentials (rapid electrical changes) along each point in the axon, the action potential can "jump" over the myelin. Instead, action potentials are regenerated only at each node of Ranvier (see above), where there are breaks in the myelin sheath.

In MS, however, the body's immune system attacks the myelin sheath, causing it to break down and scar tissue to form. This process is c . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 2532 | Comments: 3
Last by Mohammadbagher on May 20, 2012, 3:36am
A random sample of Americans was polled a few years ago. The purpose of this poll was to gauge our population's knowledge and beliefs on human life and evolution. Religious beliefs aside, this statement particularly stood out to me:

A quarter of Americans believed that this is true. This absolutely floors me.

But it also has me wondering: do people understand what, exactly, a genetic defect is? Do they understand what DNA is beyond, say, mentionings in the O.J. Simpson case or paternity tests on Maury?

Another poll states that 80% of Americans believe the U.S. should create a "DNA bank" of its citizens. What exactly are they believing in, then?

There is a great divide between the scientific community and the average non-scientific layperson. And just before I enrolled in my Ph.D. program to begin my scientific career, it became clear to me how I'd like to use my knowledge: to educate others, in their terms, about what's going on in their bodies.


There are two truths about which I have been certain for most of my life: I love to write and create, and science is endlessly fascinating.

Back home, a large box is filled to the brim with papers I'd taped together to create books—st . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 11572 | Comments: 0
I recently posted a picture of the congressional vote count for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act showing the absolutely disgusting bi-partisan divide over this vote in 2009. Republicans should be ashamed.

However, someone added a link to an Examiner article posted a few days ago that said the Obama White House paid women 15% less in 2011. The article essentially says that Obama is a massive hypocrite and Democrats are truly the ones waging the war against women. If you read not very far into this story, they say the numbers are based on median salary, not the mean, and it's not classified by job title OR GS class (which would really get at equal pay for equal work - the whole point of the Ledbetter act!). Unfortunately, when I went to grab the data from the White House page, it didn't list GS class or gender. It'd be a lot more accurate to use GS class for this type of analysis because that takes into account the amount of experience a person has in each position, but doing the averages by job titles is still MUCH better than taking the median of the salaries. In a profession such as US politics whic . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 3566 | Comments: 2
Last by jimbot on Apr 27, 2012, 7:07pm
In the sleep research lab where I'm currently completing my rotation, we are bringing back students for a follow-up study. Most of them don't seem to recall the uncomfortable beds or having electrodes pasted to their scalp from their baseline test, which was done back when they were in elementary school. (For our sake in recruiting participants, that's probably for the best.)

Nowadays they're older, wiser, more self-aware, and, as teenagers, a bit more judgmental. The researchers in charge of performing psychometric testing—new college grads and not much older or taller than the participants themselves—recently made an interesting observation: if they wear a white coat when interacting with the participants (and their parents), they receive more respect.

According to a study by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky of Norwestern University, it's possible that our psych testers not only look more professional, but subconsciously feel more professional. In other words, the clothes may literally make the man (or woman).

The study, published February in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, observed an interesting phe . . . More
Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 946 | Comments: 1
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Apr 05, 2012, 6:31pm
I've been sick. My allergies are acting up. I am tired. I am harried. I haven't been able to play tennis in almost 3 weeks. Really play. Not just rally for someone who is kinda at my level or below. I am ready to blow my top and I've been snarking at everyone around me. And I'm pretty sure the next person who gets us all publicly excoriated on the floor or in lecture or in lab is going to go missing, because I will dump their body in a giant vat of solvent.

Whomever decided Step 1 should be taken after the 2nd year, and that we should still have final exams should be beaten to death with a baseball bat and have their body dumped somewhere in the Nevada desert. Sure, the exams cover "basic" science - anatomy, micro, biochem, pathology, pharmacology, behavioral science, genetics and immunology. But the score determines matching for residency. And I'd like to get above the minimum 188 (out of 260). And into a decent residency match.

I don't want to study for finals or Step 1 anymore. All I want to do is drink cold, cold Ricard, slurp oysters and work on getting a one-handed backhand as flashy, precise, powerful and pretty as Richard Gasquet's.