Monday, September 26, 2011

I guess I should update

School is going okay. I've gotten good grades so far. Lab is alright, although I'm not sure I'm that interested in what they're doing and I've butted heads a little with the lab manager. I only have five more weeks there so I'm just trying to stick it out and do the best I can until it's over. Really though, I'm struggling. For the past week I have woken up with the worst anxiety. As soon as I wake up, it hits me before I can even have time to consciously worry about something. It's so bad that I'm having trouble eating in the morning and it's really throwing me off. It goes away in an hour or two but sometimes it takes longer before I can eat. It sucks so much. I have an appointment to see a counselor but it's not until next week so I'm trying to just hang on until then. I bought some applesauce today because I thought that it might be easier to eat than solid food in the morning. Ginger ale helps a little bit too. Anyway, I hope it gets better soon because it's really putting a cramp in my life, otherwise I would be feeling a lot better.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Okay, I feel better now

I just booked Memo's boarding so that I can come home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas! Yay!! At first I thought I was only going to be home for Christmas. But the way it turns out, I'll be done with my rotation at Dr. Bogdanove's at the beginning of November, and my rotation with Dr. Zhang doesn't start until January. So I will be free to go home! I am so so excited and I'm really looking forward to seeing my family. Hopefully I'll be able to meet my nephew if he's home by then too. Anyway, yay going home!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First year homesickness, part 1

Today I was really hit hard by a wave of homesickness that I can't really explain. I think it may have been triggered by the fact that this week I officially take possession of the title to my car and register it in Iowa, getting Iowa plates and all. I've never had to do any of that before, I've always driven on my dad's insurance and he owns the car, so it's weird and new and freaks me out. But yeah, I felt so homesick that I cried a lot for no reason and eventually called home for the second time in one day so I could talk to somebody.
I guess part of it is that I do live alone, and I like that, but I feel isolated from my friends because they all live in Des Moines and I'm in Ames. And I don't want to butt in on their lives every weekend just so I don't feel lonely. Plus I'm single, and it's really hard to be single and away from my family, because I'm not physically near anyone that I'm super super close to. I don't really know how to do that yet and it's kind of hard. I really want to date and have a relationship, but I don't want to just date the first person that shows any interest because I'm desperate. But I am kind of lonely. I really don't know what to do about that.
Hopefully I'll feel better because tomorrow it's back to school and lab and I'll be busy. This Saturday I've planned to go see the BodyWorlds exhibit at the Des Moines Science Center, since I've never been and I have really wanted to see it for a while. I'm hoping that just getting out of the house for a while will help me feel better.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Rotation!

I got my first lab rotation set up today! Sweet relief. I was getting kind of nervous there because technically all of us are supposed to start our rotations by next Tuesday. So yeah, it got cut pretty close, but I am officially rotating in Dr. Bogdanove's lab. I have meetings scheduled with two other professors, so hopefully I'll have all three rotations set soon.
Anyway, Dr. Bogdanove works on plant pathology, specifically pathogens of rice. The bacteria make these proteins called TAL effectors. When the bacteria infect a plant, they secrete the TAL effectors which go into the plant nucleus, bind specific DNA promoters, and activate transcription of those genes. Usually the genes that are transcribed help the bacteria infect the plant cells better in some way, but some plants have evolved some resistance mechanisms. The interesting part is the TAL effectors, because they're specific and they can be engineered to recognize pretty much any DNA sequence. There are several projects going on, but I picked to work on the one that requires the most plant pathology, and therefore I know the least about. I figured that I might as well learn a bunch of stuff right away rather than stay in my comfort zone with basic molecular biology. So I'm going to be taking TAL effectors from one type of this bacteria, putting them into another type of the bacteria, and then infecting the plants to see if the different TAL effectors change how the bacteria infect the plant. I'll be able to explain it better once I'm doing it, I'm sure. But I'm really looking forward to starting!