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Dangerous Experiments

Dangerous Experiments is the LabSpaces spot for guest bloggers. The purpose of the blog is to give new and old bloggers a space to experiment with blogging. If you'd like to contribute to this experiment, send us an e-mail or contact us on twitter at either @LSBlogs or @LabSpaces.

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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Interestingly, I knew that this was the kind of work I wanted to do as soon as I heard about it. I had always loved both science and art, growing up. I didn't realize I could have a job that reache. . .Read More
Jan 08, 2013, 7:58pm

Thank you for writing Monika, and for your curiosity about this line of work. There are many reasons to be drawn to this profession, and there are many subspecialties. Aside from the lov. . .Read More
Jan 08, 2013, 7:50pm

Laura,  I am currently a student at Penn State University, and i am focused in the Visual Arts area. I was wondering about specificating my talent into medical illustration because of my p. . .Read More
Jan 08, 2013, 7:24pm

We here at approve of this post because it has our name in it. That is all... Actually that's not all. There's more! Here's a pic of a raccoon carying a. . .Read More
Nov 15, 2012, 3:04pm

Melissa, I too am fairly optimistic about the FSMA, which has great implications for the future of the lab testing industry. Although my company doesn't do food testing in particular, we have . . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 5:07pm
Views: 3410 | Comments: 3
Last by Sharmeen Omar on Feb 01, 2012, 10:01pm
A provocative aspect of the climate change debate is the impact that temperature changes have on species. In particular, people have used the beloved and majestic polar bear, Ursus maritimus, as a mascot for the negative impact of climate change. A few years ago, it wasn't known that global warming could affect the fundamental definition of the polar bears species.

Polar bears are closely related to grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and it has long been known that these animals can interbreed, creating a rare hybridization of the polar bear and the grizzly bear (formally called Ursus arctos horribilis and more commonly referred to as a grolar).

This hybrid, though extremely rare, has occurred in captivity and has long been storied in arctic legends. In 1864 biologist, Clinton Hart Merriam, described an animal killed at Rendezvous Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada as "buffy whitish with a golden brown muzzle". A century later, Clara Helgason remembers a bear shot by hunters on Kodiak Island during her childhood in 1943 as "a large, off-white bear with hair all over his paws".

In April 2006, Jim Martell, a sport hunter from the United States, shot a grolar near on Banks Island. Martell had paid $50,000, for an official license and a guide to hunt p . . . More
Views: 1385 | Comments: 0
In my book, Ben Franklin is the man. An expert swimmer, self-taught pentaglot, and inventor of the "glass harmonica," he was also among the first to suggest the notion of Daylight Savings Time. A 1784 essay by Franklin suggested that an extra hour of daylight in the evening would save on candles.

I love that extra hour. As a kid during the summertime, it meant my brother and I could play our aptly-named "Kick the Ball" game in the yard after dinner. Nowadays, it means I can see where I'm going when I walk home from an afternoon in lab.

The end of Daylight Savings Time (which occurs at 2 a.m. this Sunday) means an end to all that, and the beginning of—well, winter. And winter is...cold. So very cold...

For most of us, changing our clocks back an hour is no big deal—in fact, it has its perks over "spring forward" in that we get an extra hour of sleep. But for others, changing the time can have a big impact on our circadian rhythm.
. . . More
Views: 2701 | Comments: 2
Last by Cynthia McKelvey on Oct 31, 2011, 5:50pm
Happy Halloween! It's a time of costumes, candy, and for those more thrill-seeking types, horror movies.
Personally, I'm a total wimp when it comes to scary movies. Show me anything that's even trying and failing to be scary, and it will still scare me. So that got me thinking, why is it you can walk into a movie feeling like this:
See this:
And suddenly feel like this:
. . . More
Views: 1613 | Comments: 0
You know what they say about people with big brains...

Big Facebook friends lists.

That's not entirely true. But a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B has neuroscience junkies abuzz this week: the number of Facebook friends we have may be linked to certain brain structures.

. . . More
Views: 2471 | Comments: 5
Last by Bronnie Thompson on Oct 10, 2011, 1:44am
This is not about Steve Jobs, although I do find a certain irony in the prolific repetition of so many of his quotes about free thinking, creativity and not living someone else’s life. But it’s not a new irony. We see it all the time. Another oft-requoted personality that comes to mind in recent years is Seth Godin; but there’s no shortage of people whose quotes today would have graced the actual hardcopy framed motivatonal posters of twenty years ago. Facebook and Twitter make that obvious. Sometimes painfully so…it’s flabbergasting how mindlessly some of this stuff can spread. There’s a Jobs quote about the value of individuals vs. the value of groups….but I bet you’ve read it three or four times today already, so I won’t bother. ;)

It isn’t that some of these people don’t have something valuable to say. The problem is that we get so caught up in the cleverness of the revelation that we don’t bother to pause long enough to internalize it. It’s so much easier to appreciate the execution than it is the actual thought behind it. It’s the ‘package vs. content’ problem all over again.

There is a deeper problem, of course, one that no one wants to consciously face: true wisdom doesn’t come in neat, 140 character packages. It comes w . . . More
Views: 5641 | Comments: 4
Last by Biff on Aug 09, 2012, 7:18am
Last week, 2007 chemical newsmaker 1,4-butanediol made it back on the front page with a US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling on a lawsuit involving 1,4-butanediol contaminated children’s toy ‘Aqua Dots’ (left). In 2007, Aqua Dots contamination story first hit the news when Australia banned the product. The adhesive 1,5-pentanediol was normally used in Aqua Dots, but 1,4-butanediol was mistakenly used in the toy's manufacturing process. The one methylene group (‒CH2‒) difference between 1,5-pentanediol and 1,4-butanediol (below) led to Aqua Dots going from the most popular toy of 2007 to the most recalled toy of 2007-2009.

Why would using a chemical with one less a ‒CH2‒ cause such trouble? As . . . More
Views: 3037 | Comments: 3
Last by Dr. Girlfriend on Aug 09, 2011, 3:45pm
For those of you unfamiliar with me, here is a little bit of my background. I recently graduated in December 2010 with my B.S. in Chemistry. I did undergrad research and worked at an environmental lab after college. After about 5 months, I ended up in academia as an organic geochemistry technician at a very large prominent college in Oklahoma.

In the beginning, I was ecstatic and flattered that all my hard work landed me such an awesome position. As the weeks went on, I struggled trying to find my niche in this odd dynamic of a team. Firstly, I am the only American girl in the lab. I did bond with the other male technician and my lab manager but getting to know the postdocs was a whole other ordeal.

See, we get visiting postdocs every 3 weeks. Right now there are 6 here for their 1 year postdoctoralship. This is unfamiliar territory for me because I’ve never heard of that many in one department. They are all foreign as well. However, this is not a problem. I lived in Italy for 6 months and am very respectful and enamored by other cultures. Slowly but surely I won the hearts of the Brazilian, the Pollack and Frenchie. I want to share with you some things I learned regarding foreign colleagues and how my work environment is so much better now.

10. D . . . More
Views: 8073 | Comments: 0
I am a New York City public high school Earth Science teacher. Before this, I devoted my life to the theater arts. These days, my audience consists of thirty-four tenth graders per class period from the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. To gain any inkling of their attention, I experimented with numerous tactics. I put on the mean face: I scolded, I scoffed- it didn't work. I began to pull out the tools of improvisation and character work that I utilized in my first career of acting, then mixed it with my over flowing enthusiasm for Earth Science. My classes became a science stand up routine, including improvised songs (the Attitude Song became quite a hit) a plethora of accents, and random impersonations (including Chewbacca) to suit the moment . Combine that with a serious love for science and behold- I am now the ultra-hyper Ms. Frizzle with questionable sanity. After being initially frightened, they began appreciating this approach: “Yo Miss- you make me hype... you make me want to learn”, regularly suggesting that I should host my own science show on television. So I decided to create my own channel, “Introducing Earth” on You Tube.

At around the same time, I was accepted into the Columbia University Research Fellowship Program for Science Teache . . . More
Views: 12289 | Comments: 2
Last by Jeremy Leipzig on Aug 01, 2011, 10:05am
One of the most anticipated events in bioinformatics is the annual Nucleic Acids Research Web Server Issue, an edition that inevitably leads to a cyclic rise in the number of “terminal masters” awarded and gives veterans in the field a chance to type into their browser various exotic foreign top level domains like .sg, .tw, .il, and .org

Web servers, perhaps more commonly understood today as web applications, are a preferred platform for providing analysis and visualization to end-users. The key difference between the web sites featured in this issue and those in NAR’s popular “Database Issue” is that these have to actually do something along the lines of computations with user-uploaded data.

NAR has published a dedicated web server issue every year since 2003 - over 1100 applications have been introduced, though some are repeatedly featured as improvements arise. Perhaps the best way to peruse these sites is through the Bioinformatics Links Directory, a curated index of tools and databases developed by Fra . . . More
Views: 3878 | Comments: 15
Last by Todd Adamson on Jul 21, 2011, 7:31pm
Michele Bachmann is a bigot and a hypocrite. She’s culturally inept and politically unsophisticated: Her thinking on many social issues (abortion and gay marriage, for starters) fall well outside the mainstream of Western Civilization, and she is demonstrably lacking in a fundamental understanding of the legal and historical framework underpinning the nation she was somehow elected to serve. She’s what I like to call a dumbass, or, in other parlance, a Republican. But it may well be that Bachmann, or some Republican like her, holds the key to the survival of our existence as we know it. Or, at least somewhat as we know it, because it’s pretty clear to anyone watching closely that “as we know it” is careening toward its expiration date.

Ask yourself: what are the truly critical issues facing humanity today? Abortion; the Sanctity of Marriage; gun ownership; the War on Drugs? Haha. No. The Debt Ceiling? Terrorism (or, more equitably, religious extremism)? Nope. Global Climate Change? OK, now we’re getting somewhere. But even terminology so broad as Global Climate Change** tends to oversimplify what’s happened, and make it seem like a separate “thing.” But it’s not just an item on a checklist, something to which we may allow ourselves . . . More
Views: 11857 | Comments: 13
Last by Laura Maaske on Jan 08, 2013, 7:58pm
What comes to mind when you think of a medical and scientific illustrator? Is it a kind of art you admire? How do you respond to highly detailed drawings? Do the fleshy human interiors make you squeamish, which is a remark I have sometimes received from clients regarding medical images in general? Does the precision impress you? Does the stiffness offer you stillness or rigidity, something to explore? Do you love the great masters of the field: Leonardo DaVinci, Andreas Vesalius, Max Brödel, Frank H. Netter, John James Audubon?

As a student medical illustrator, I knew what I wanted to learn. I wanted to wrap my mind around the science and the drawing skills I would require in the future. I already had an undergraduate degree in zoology, and our courses in the Division of Biomedical Communications were to be shared with the medical students at the University of Toronto, so science was heavily on my mind. There were . . . More
Views: 2381 | Comments: 3
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 14, 2011, 10:48am
This week's co-guest blogger is Zoonotica! She is a 1st year PhD student whose main interests lie in disease transmission, public health and science communication. She blogs about amazingly cool scientific research that is going on at the moment; current topics in public health and zoonotic diseases; and a little bit about life as a PhD student. You can find more from Zoonotica on her blog or by following her on twitter.


What suckered me into starting a PhD was learning about zoonotic diseases. I think they’re just so fascinating – they’re complex and dangerous and everywhere! According to the literature they’re hiding in our forests, our parks and gardens, they’re even lurking in our houses! But what the heck are they?

Well, a zoonotic disease, or zoonosis, according to the World Health Organisation is

any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans and vice-versa

and there are a large and ever-growing number of them. (In fact, it’s been estimated that 3 out of every 4 emerging human disease comes from animals!)

I’m even fairly confident that you – yes, you, reading this post right now – will have come across a zoonosis at some point with you or a family member or friend suffering from one (obviously hopefully one of the less dangerous ones!)

Engraving of Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
. . . More
Views: 403580 | Comments: 12
Last by JaniceF on Jul 11, 2011, 8:34pm
Recently, a fellow graduate student defended his master’s thesis. He set the record for the shortest time to degree in our College with a nice job lined up afterwards. But that also meant he never presented his work at a conference, or a department/college seminar. This was his first- and most important “big talk”. What follows are the top 10 tips I gave him at one point or another as he was preparing that should be a help to anyone getting ready for a “big talk”.

Planning Your Talk

1) Know Your Audience
Everyone will tell you to know your audience, which couldn’t be truer when you’re planning the introduction to your talk. Sure, there is a big difference between talking to high school students and presenting at a conference, but try to think: who is coming to my talk? If they are all cellular biologists like you, then skip the central dogma slide. But if you have a mix of disciplines you need to be able to explain your work to a biologist, as well as an electrical engineer. Imagine you’re giving the talk to one person with each potential background. Would each person be able to follow it? Sometimes you need to sacrifice some specific details in order to explain the important stuff to everybody. (But you should be able to talk extempora . . . More
Views: 40637 | Comments: 6
Last by Logan D on Nov 15, 2012, 3:04pm
This week’s guest blogger is Debbie Knight, a research associate at The Ohio State University. She shares her research thoughts and experiences in her blog ( and tweets about all things science (@acousticgravity). In her spare time, she plays mandolin in a local band and takes journalism classes at OSU.


When someone asked me what I wanted to be in high school, I would say a “biomedical researcher.” I put those words in quotes here because at that time I had absolutely no idea what it meant (or even what a researcher did), but I knew it sounded like a really cool thing to be.

I also asked my parents for luggage as a graduation gift.

Little did I know these two things would one day merge.

I would like to note that around my junior year of college, I finally did figure out what a researcher does when I volunteered to work in a lab and that research has been my passion for the past two decades.

What I did not know then was that becoming a researcher would lead to travel and adventure.

. . . More
Views: 2463 | Comments: 2
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 10, 2011, 11:06am
This week's guest blogger is Ryan Renslow. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Washington State University in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering (say that five times fast!). You can follow him on twitter (@BiofilmResearch) to learn all about biofilms and his research!


Until recently, most of the general public has never heard of or used the word "biofilm". Thanks to Listerine, and their "biofilm fighting" mouthwash, this is no longer true. Listerine commercials, featuring their new antiseptic product, have indoctrinated our culture to believe that "biofilm" is merely 2011-speak for plaque. However, biofilm is not simply a new advertising buzzword, but rather it has actually been used in the scientific research community since the late 70's and refers to much more than simple oral plaque. To be clear, plaque is known as a biofilm in dental and oral science literature, so Listerine is correct, but biofilms are much more than what the commercials depict.

Bacteria live in two primary modes of life: the planktonic form and the biofilm form. The planktonic form refers to free floating cell . . . More
Views: 3973 | Comments: 7
Last by Torbjörn Larsson on Jul 21, 2011, 8:45pm
This week's guest blogger is Rachana Bhatawdekar. She's a budding astrophysicist currently traveling Europe and Asia. You can find her and a bunch of sciency tweets on twitter as @astrogeek03.


When astronomers look in to deep space they can ‘look-back’ in to time, billions of years. Now I can understand it can take light a while to get here, but how did WE get here, considering we originated in the big bang just like all the stuff created whose light reaches us many years later?

Was the emergence of life unavoidable? Is it the result of a process that would have had to occur sooner or later? Or else is it the outcome of coincidences so improbable that time spans much longer than the age of the Universe would be insufficient to explain it by a random process?

Of course, when one has plenty of time, even the improbable becomes possible. When one plays dice for a very long time, one always ends up by throwing a double six three times in a row.

. . . More
Views: 5506 | Comments: 7
Last by Brian Scott Ph.D. on Aug 06, 2011, 8:00am
This week's guest blogger is @ArkhamAsylumDoc! She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is a project scientist at a very nerdy university science lab. You can follow her on twitter for more geekery!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (known to clinicians as the DSM-IV) is essentially psychiatry and psychology’s “big book” of illnesses. We refer to the manual when assessing and determining the condition(s) our patients may be suffering from. Publication of the fifth edition of the manual (DSM-5) is scheduled for May 2013, and is, according to the American Psychiatric Association, considered one of the "most anticipated events in the mental health field."

Why is this book so important? The manual lists and defines all psychiatric conditions that are recognized as valid illnesses by the field. Clinical scientists, medical doctors, and experienced experts in mental health are in charge of determining the criteria, constructs, and even the name of each disorder. The next edition will have substantial changes. What’s certainly made things interesting for this iteration is that the preliminary draft of the manual is now available for public review. This means we can all peruse the provisional diagnoses and proposed changes.

There are a number of conditions that are still under consideration, and thus remain on the chopping block. These illnesses have never before been published in the reference manual and many are not currently recognized as actual medical or mental health conditions. Using some familiar characters, I briefly describe and illustrate each proposed illness currently under the category of “Psychiatric Conditions Under Review.”

. . . More
Views: 1002 | Comments: 0
This week's guest blogger is Ben Still. He's a postdoctoral researcher at the Particle Physics Research Centre Queen Mary, University of London. He can be found on twitter @benstill.


Last week around 150 scientists travelled to Japan to not only discuss exciting new physics but also how to re-build one of the biggest experiments on the planet. The Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) experiment is an international collaboration of around 500 scientists and engineers in total, from 12 different countries. We are using neutrinos, the smallest and most ghostly building blocks of nature, in an attempt to understand a major chapter in the creation story of the Universe.

The Meeting

Many of the participants of the meeting were retracing steps they took just months earlier when evacuating Japan after the March 11th earthquake. The quake devastated much of the north-eastern Japanese seaboard and with it the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC), the base of the T2K experiment. J-PARC itself was too damaged in the quake to host a meeting and so the venue was changed to the sister particle phys . . . More
Views: 17751 | Comments: 9
Last by Joseph Bradley on Aug 15, 2012, 5:07pm
Our co-guest blogger of the week is Melissa Hughes. Her scientific interest is one that is quite unique and fairly new compared to other scientific disciplines: food microbiology and food safety. She received her M.S. degree in food science/microbiology back in 2009, and is currently employed at a private food and environmental testing laboratory in the San Francisco Bay Area. On top of being a food microbiologist and overseeing the quality operations in the lab, she also organizes and helps teach various food safety training workshops throughout the year.


I would bet money that right now you are thinking, “What in the world does a food microbiologist do?” Don’t worry, I get asked that a lot…and then it typically leads to a discussion about a story heard on the news regarding some food-related outbreak or a product recall.

Food microbiology is quite simply the study of those microorganisms (both beneficial and harmful) that impact food and beverage products. It encompasses two major areas: general microbiology and food safety/quality. A proper understanding of microorganisms (especially bacteria, yeasts, molds, and parasites) and those factors that impact growth, survival and pathogenesis provide th . . . More
Views: 3818 | Comments: 7
Last by Suzy on May 17, 2011, 10:01am
Mary Canady is the founder Comprendia which provides marketing and social media consulting services to the life science and biotech industry. Additionally, she began the San Diego Biotechnology Network to help life science researchers and professionals connect online and at monthly networking events. Mary also serves as a liaison between life science companies and the science blogging community, and she can be found on Twitter at @comprendia.


There is an ongoing, fascinating discussion in the science blogosphere about women in science, covering such topics as being a mom as a scientist (including Jade’s post which prompted me to write this one), women scienceblogging, and the ever present salary inequality discussions. To contribute to these conversations constructively, I’d like to list the best advice I’ve received as a woman in biotech. Since getting my Ph.D. in biochemistry, and moving into ‘industry’ about ten years ago, I’ve gotten great advice and also learned a lot. These recommendations can also be used by those with a science background in general, as qualities such as self-denigration are common and may be perpetuated by the culture of higher education.

. . . More
Views: 4201 | Comments: 2
Last by Brian on May 03, 2011, 6:16pm
EcoPhysioMichelle is a graduate student in organismal biology. Her thesis research is on the ecophysiology of epidermal lipids and water homeostasis in house sparrows, and she is a graduate teaching associate for an introductory human physiology class for non-majors. She blogs about human physiology, weird animal biology, and the interface of science and culture on her blog C6-H12-O6. You can follow her on Twitter (@physilology).


Hypoadiponectinemia is a long word that simply describes the state of having too little of a certain endocrine called adiponectin. Adiponectin is a major metabolic endocrine, and is responsible for regulating things like glucose uptake and lipolysis (the breakdown of fat stores). Having hypoadiponectinemia, or too little adiponectin, is a risk factor for both Type II Diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a syndrome principally characterized by central obesity, or an overly large waist circumference, among other things).

Plasma adiponectin concentration (or how much of the endocrine is present in your blood) is inversely correlated with the am . . . More
Views: 7655 | Comments: 14
Last by Tim Skellett (Gurdur) on May 01, 2011, 4:14pm
This week's guest blogger is Tim Skellett. He is an Australian, but these days lives semi-permanently in northwestern Germany. His interests range from nature to ecology, gardening, reading, metal- and hot-glass-work, and travelling. He is a frequent contributor to the Guardian. He can be found on his Twitter account, at @Gurdur or on his blog.


I once heard a woman talk, and I've never forgotten her, although I only heard about ten minutes of her speech, decades ago. I had a job in healthcare at the time, and part of my job was accompanying patients to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; the woman was one of a quite a few speakers at that meeting. She had been diagosed with Huntington's disease, which was a death sentence, and today still is; it was well-advanced, and meant she would die not all that long afterwards, and quite possibly in dementia. Huntingon's disease, also called Huntington's Chorea, is an autosomal dominant genetic, neurodegenerative disorder. So this woman had been handed one of life's truly nastily bad cards; one of her parents had had at least one particularly bad form of a specific gene, Huntingtin. That malformation of one gene has a great many different possible outworkings because the gene is widely spread throughout the body, although concentrated in the brain. The different outworkings can lead to different symptoms being presented clinically, which creates problems for nosology - the science or philosophy of how we define diseases. Sufferers of Huntington's often enough commit suicide, and it can be very difficult to determine if such a sufferer is suicidal owing to one possible rational response to the thought of dying in such a manner as Huntington's, or because the Huntington's itself has caused suicidal ideation through pathological brain changes, which is known to happen in some sufferers. Huntington's, like other neurodegenerative diseases, affects intentionality, our power of choice of action, through affecting the brain.

. . . More
Views: 6347 | Comments: 4
Last by JaySeeDub on Apr 20, 2011, 1:51am
This week's guest blogger is Dr. Carin Bondar. She is a biologist, writer and film-maker with a PhD in population ecology from the University of British Columbia. In addition to her biology blog, she recently released her first book ‘The Nature of Human Nature’, a light-hearted look at where the human species fits in with the rest of the animal kingdom. Find Dr. Bondar online at, on twitter @drbondar or on her facebook page, Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist.


The practice of silviculture has been alive and well in the terrestrial ecosystems of our planet for a few centuries. From Latin roots, the term essentially means to grow (culture) the forest (silvi). Such a practice has made both economic and ecological sense in a myriad of biomes on each and every continent. After all – if the world’s forests are somehow degraded (most often by anthropogentic disturbances) it makes a lot of sense to have a number of techniques by which to restore them. As I mention above, silvicultural practices like ‘human assisted natural regeneration’ of forests are both well researched and successful in terms of their goals of re-growing terrestrial forested stands. Researchers recently asked whether such methodologies could be applied to their aquatic counterparts: the world’s coral reefs

. . . More
Views: 3091 | Comments: 8
Last by TheLeadingEdge on Apr 14, 2011, 11:58am
This week's guest blogger is Katie Fleming. She loves science, with an overwhelming Border collie-style bouncing enthusiasm. This crazy geeky love has gotten her a first class degree in biochemistry, a job as a freelance scientific production editor, and some serious aspirations to be a real-life science writer. She spends her spare time eating too much cake, gazing lovingly at molecular structures and blogging about biochemistry and the awesome science of everyday life at She would love to see you there. Katie can also be found on Twitter.


When I was first asked to feature here as a guest blogger I was a little nervous, my usual writing style is a bit like a scientific tea party, lots of excitable biochemical discussion and cake, so I wondered what subject I should pick. Then I remembered an article I read last year by Thomas Mayer and Andreas Marx about their five ‘desert island molecules’. These were the . . . More
Views: 4767 | Comments: 10
Last by Tim Skellett (Gurdur) on Apr 06, 2011, 9:33am
This week's guest blogger is Canadian Girl Postdoc. She lives and works in the United States and writes about things that lie at the interface of biology, gender, and culture. Always a little bit of bitch and a little bit buddhist, she can't promise to be PG13. In fact she promises not to be PG13. She can be found on her blog at blogspot and also on twitter as @CdnGirlpostdoc.


When I was asked to write a guest blog for LabSpaces, I was flattered. But I stopped and asked myself the question why.

Why was I flattered?

At the most basic emotional level, I was flattered because it made me feel much like I did when I was a 12-year old girl with pigtails, glasses, one-eyebrow, and braces waiting for the cute, white, popular kids to select me to play on one of their soccer teams. But each time, I was disappointed. Despite my talent, I was relegated to the sidelines to watch as the other girls played. [Eventually I found a team and we kicked the popular kids asses.]

So when I read an article by Walton and Cohen (2011 Mar 18 Science) I was not surprised to find that a sense of social belonging . . . More
Views: 18108 | Comments: 9
Last by A. H. on Sep 27, 2011, 2:54pm
This week's guest blogger is Joe Hanson. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he works on things far less interesting than the work you are about to read, specifically mobile genetic elements and ancient introns. He blogs at It's Okay To Be Smart and runs an awesome Tumblr page of the same name (updated ten times as often). Joe can be found on Twitter @jtotheizzoe.


I was on a little bit of a post-vacation downer this past week. Only, I didn’t actually go anywhere. Instead, the SXSW music (and arts and interactive and style) festival came to me, right at home in Austin, TX. It was a week of uplifting musical and artistic expression emanating from every street corner and bar in town, and much of could even be classified as good! As I look back on the last week, two things jump out at me: 1) Tall cans of cheap, hipster beer and 2) BEARDS.

. . . More
Views: 1899 | Comments: 9
Last by Ragamuffin on May 04, 2011, 12:57am
This week's guest blogger is Kristin Lammers. She has an MS in chemistry from Rutgers University and is currently a PhD student at Temple University in physical chemistry. Her thesis work is on environmental chemistry and CO2 sequestration.


I recently read Jade's post about what she would want to study if she wasn't working in the biotech industry. She indicated that she would love to research multiple sclerosis and this has motivated me to share with you my perspective on life as a graduate student. In actuality, we may all go through the thought process of questioning our current path in the sciences. This is usually catalyzed by some experiment gone wrong or when we are in the “negative region of the sine wave”, which is quite a common case in graduate school. However, my perspective really isn’t too far of a stretch from the life of a graduate student, just that there is one extra hurdle to deal with, and maybe an extra abundance of caffeinated drinks. I have been “blessed” with (a) MS. Yes, the degree in chemistry and the autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis. Interestingly enough for me, I rec . . . More
Views: 2199 | Comments: 14
Last by katie_phd on Mar 17, 2011, 9:57am
This week's guest blogger is Image Goddess who is a PhD Scientist with a multidisciplinary background. She has a degree in a field within the biological sciences and is currently enjoying life after graduate school. She blogs at


When you're in graduate school, especially in the biological sciences, your life is your dissertation work. You live it. You breathe it. If you're like most doctoral students your dissertation work is everything. You are in the standard doctoral student mold created by the system you have to go through to get that coveted degree. And because your whole life is focused around getting your degree, after several years all you can think about is getting done and moving on. But you're often afraid to think about it. Where are you going to move on to? That's the big question. You've spent years dedicating yourself to obtaining this degree, to your research, but now what? And frequently, you don't want to think about it un . . . More
Views: 1734 | Comments: 0
Waddell Robey is back for another week! He has eighteen years of aerospace engineering and management experience and thirty plus years in health and human services research. He is a strong space exploration activist and maintains a steady commentary on Twitter as XiNeutrino and through direct mailings to NASA leadership. He has several blogs devoted to space exploration. His philosophy is that we are here to explore, and in exploring we discover, and in discovering we seek to explain, and in explaining we enrich that which we call science.

The retirement of NASA’s shuttle is pending, and with that comes an approaching end to the glorious service of the Hubble Space Telescope; unless there can be an alternative method of maintaining its service. Why should we worry? The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is designed to be Hubble’s successor. Unlike Hubble, the JWST, located in an L2-L4 orbit, will not require regular servicing and will provide astronomers and other cosmic investigators with new and expanded capabilities. Well, that is fine, but why let such a ver . . . More
Views: 2677 | Comments: 7
Last by Michael Blume on Mar 01, 2011, 1:20am
This week's guest blogger is Michael Blume who did his dissertation in scientific studies of religions (German: Religionswissenschaft) about brain sciences & religion(s). Since then, he has focused on evolutionary studies of religion and therein especially on the interactions of religious traditions and fertility as well as gender issues. Besides writing books and articles, he's blogging at (English) and (German). You can find him on Twitter @BlumeEvolution


The idea that the biological trait of religiosity and the cultural traditions of religion(s) are a result of evolutionary history still seems to be shockingly daring and new to many. But in fact, it has been there from the very start of evolutionary theory. Charles Darwin, a learned theologian, was pretty clear about it: If evolutionary theory turned out to be true, it had to be able to explain the evolution of "natural" religiosity as well as . . . More
Views: 1117 | Comments: 12
Last by 27 and a PhD on Feb 24, 2011, 3:46pm
29andaPhD is a PostDoc with a degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics who is currently on the hunt for a real job. She blogs at 29 and a PhD and she can be found on twitter as 28andaPhD.


One of the most awesome experiences of grad school (besides landing the coveted spot for the interview, getting into your favourite lab, or finishing your degree sooner than planned) is passing the qualifying or comprehensive exam. For short, I'll call it qual. In a way this exam is designed to not only test your capacity to create new and test an idea, by teaching yourself new concepts, challenge paradigms, establish a new line of thinking, but to “filter”, in a way, the incoming talent of the department. Passing the qual, in a way, serves to welcome you into some sort of club, where students (usually) don't take any more exams, that of senior grad students who are held up as the best and brightest within a department. It was understood that if you passed this rigorous examination you had fought hard and earned your spot in the department. At least that's how it seemed to the 24-year-old-super-scared me.

This is my story about passing th . . . More
Views: 2734 | Comments: 4
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 16, 2011, 7:11pm
This week's guest blogger is Anthony Haugh who currently lives in New Mexico, and has studied Electronics Technology and Photonics Technology. He later plans on obtaining his third degree in Optical Engineering after visiting Europe. He can be found on Twitter as @Boltary.


To my eternal amusement, every time someone asks me "what are your majors?" I get blank stares when I give the reply "Photonics Technology and Electronics Technology." Most of everyone I meet immediately understands the degree with that now-commonplace word "Electronics," but almost without exception I am asked "What is Photonics?" I admit that when I entered college I only had a limited understanding of what "Photonics" was besides Photons and Lasers. Even my spell-checker says it is a made-up word, so what is Photonics, and why is it important?

It turns out that "Photonics" is an extremely diverse field, and is about as vague as saying "Chemistry" or "Physics" when trying to talk about a field of science. Specifically, photonics is a sub-set of physics that focuses on the studies and applications of photons (Such as detection, generation, etc). Photons are odd little concepts that defy . . . More
Views: 1290 | Comments: 17
Last by Alena on Jan 06, 2012, 12:34pm
Alchemystress is a graduate student working on her PhD in Chemistry. She works on instrumentation, biotech, microfab and nanotech. She is in her first year of a PhD program but second year of graduate school. Alchemystress started out as a biochemistry student and did a BS in biology and has worked in the proteomics field of cancer research for about 2.5 years before starting her work in chemistry.


I am super feminine, but not girly, I dress classic like Audrey Hepburn but have tattoos, and skulls on my keychain, working on a quarter sleeve in fact. I am a chemist that does engineering and biology. I drive a truck and wear high heels almost everyday. I model, I do runways, I build mass specs and nanodevices. I spin fire, and am an honorary part of a fire circus and I teach organic chemistry. I did Burning Man, I did research on a boat in Hawaii. I have a horrid curiosity to the point where I want to know everything even, when I am not interested. I hike and love the outdoors, camping and getting dirty but enjoy a good dance club as well. I drink whiskey and smoke cigars sometimes, and I also like to run long distances.

I think people forget that to be successful doesn’t m . . . More
Views: 10042 | Comments: 4
Last by Nelson on Feb 01, 2011, 9:11am
This week's guest blogger is Waddell Robey. He has eighteen years of aerospace engineering and management experience and thirty plus years in health and human services research. He is a strong space exploration activist and maintains a steady commentary on Twitter as XiNeutrino and through direct mailings to NASA leadership. He has several blogs devoted to space exploration. His philosophy is that we are here to explore, and in exploring we discover, and in discovering we seek to explain, and in explaining we enrich that which we call science.

Introduce a topic about space elevators within a group of space travel enthusiasts and you will usually get a variety of reactions from eye-rolls, to snickers, to nods of acceptance and interest. Although there is continuing encouragement, especially from NASA, for design research into the total space elevator concept, there remains several critical areas that pose serious barriers. One of the most important and the most challenging to address is the exposure of the space elevator to intense radiation.

Anchored to an ocean platform on the equator and to a geo-synchronous space terminal 100,000 k . . . More
Views: 10467 | Comments: 12
Last by Unhappy on Jun 09, 2012, 1:16pm
Angela Monaghan is a geophysicist living in southwest Montana. In her spare time she trains and field trials her Hellfire Springer Spaniels, sporadically blogs as GeoFizz and tweets as MTHellfire.

*This entry contains a YouTube video*

"Tide goes in and tide goes can't explain that." Bill O'Reilly recently told Dave Silverman of American Atheists, during a recent airing on Fox News as they debated the integrity of religion.

Although I was disappointed Dave couldn't just blurt out "It's the MOON, moron" and melt Bill into a gooey puddle of religious ignorance, I did sympathize with him. (Just look at his stunned facial expression!) He was probably thinking the same thing I was, it's impossible to rationally argue with a person who thinks facts don't matter anyway.

The frightening aspect to a highly paid TV personality being so ignorant should be obvious. There are thousands, if not millions, of people watching who might be even more ignorant than "Bill-O The Clown", and who might believe every ignorant thing he says is true.

Recently, I was told through a Facebook i . . . More
Views: 3152 | Comments: 7
Last by LeStonga on May 09, 2011, 9:40am
Sean Marshall is a science communication practitioner living in Ireland. He produces and presents the Science Chat podcast and associated blog. He blogs and podcasts mainly on issues and topics related to science communication, education and outreach. He also writes (fiction) and plays electric guitar (noisily). Sean can be found on twitter as @arthurpdent42.

So many people, I mean soooo many people have been saying to me over the past few weeks (in Ireland - unsurprising as that's where I live) that how can people be talking about climate change and global warming when this year and last year we've had such snow as hasn't been seen in these parts for years. Of course, the fact that we're having some really cold weather with plenty of snow doesn't contradict global warming. Global warming is a climate change effect that can cause many types of weather anomaly, and an overall increase in global temperature doesn’t have to cause locally warmer weather, it’s a bit more complex than that, and you have to understand how climate relates to weather. . . . More
Views: 1541 | Comments: 3
Last by Evie on Jan 10, 2011, 10:14am
This week's guest blogger is Neil Losin who is a biologist, photographer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. In his “day job,” he's working on his Ph.D. in UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, studying the evolution of territorial behavior in lizards. When he's not doing science, he takes photographs of nature (especially wildlife) and documents the work of scientists who study nature. Neil submitted this post to the NEScent evolutionaty biology blogging contest and has won a trip to this year's ScienceOnline 2011 conference as a result. You can find him on twitter @neillosin

Imagine that you’re considering having children. Upon visiting a genetic counselor, you discover that you and your partner both carry the same rare, recessive genetic mutation. While neither you nor your partner shows any symptoms, there is a 25% chance that your child will suffer from a debilitating genetic disorder. Then imagine that the counselor tells you that new embryo-selection technology can ensure that you’ll have a healthy baby; with early-stage genetic testing, doctors can pick a candidate embryo with the right genes and discar . . . More