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Posts Tagged ‘experiments’

I love doing experiments.

I need to do experiments.

I enjoy working in the lab.

This, I know, is what I am born to do.

As much as I love experimenting in the lab, I too, love experimenting in the kitchen.  I somehow associate experimenting with cooking.  And these words are interchangeable in my dictionary. 🙂

AT WORK:  The lab is my kitchen and my samples are my recipe.  My results are the products of my hard work- they are the food I have created.  But I also understand that doing science is not just about the fun part- cooking.  It is actually about serving your meals to the people a.k.a. your costumers.  It is about the purpose- the costumer´s satisfaction and their nourishment.  It´s purpose is to nourish- to promote growth, to better knowledge and deepen understanding, to foster the development of research and technology for the betterment of humanity.  Science involves writing and making it known to the public.  It is about publishing.  “Publish or perish” right?  And so, the pressure is up, but the projects are most often than not frustrating.  This cooking career requires skills, patience, lots of troubleshooting, and tons of faith and prayer. But I enjoy it anyhow…

AT THE KITCHEN:  I experiment on new recipes. I search for ingredients and I get a bit creative and flexible with it.  I look for alternatives, and this is the fun part of it. It takes courage and experience to create new things, and this is what it takes to create new recipes.  And resourcefulness wouldn´t hurt either.  And this is what I just did.  I used my resourcefulness 🙂

I picked some fresh sour cherries at my institute´s garden, washed them thoroughly and patiently pitted them one by one. I then transferred the pitted cherries in a cooking vessel on a low heat. I added a handful of white sugar and I brought it into a boil.  I set aside some of the juice extracts from the marmalade and then I poured a half bottle of red wine into the pot.  I continuously heat it up until the alcohol from the wine was reduced.  This is to concentrate all the rich flavors from the sour cherry, the sugar, and the wine.  I came to a product I call cherry wine marmalade.

Oh my, I love the taste!  It is perfect for my early morning (plain) yoghurt (I also tried it with freshly cut banana, and it´s wonderful!), or top it on a vanilla ice cream.

I also turned the juice extract from the marmalade into a wonderful cherry cocktail.  I filtered the extract it into a bottle, added some sugar for added sweetness, or vodka, for a kick.  I gathered some ice cubes and put it in, gave a hard shake  and  wahhhlahhhh!!!! My refreshing cherry drink.

I served these to my friends when I hosted a dinner one Saturday night in my apartment and they loved it.  It just complemented the pineapple chicken and buttered veggies I served for the main course. We did enjoy the ice cream topped with cherry marmalade and the cherry cocktail while we sang our hearts out in youtube karaoke and laugh our night through it.

That´s the thing with experimenting in the kitchen over cooking in the lab – I always get good results, a smile on my face and a happy stomach.

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Started it a foggy day.

This is a view from my apartment window.  I was a bit delighted with the foggy, misty, fresh feel of the air this morning.

I went to the lab and, one by one, begun crossing out the to-do list of the day.

It was a struggle to get it through the day- packed with meetings, experiments and failures.  Experiments are yet again playing hard to get!  A slap on the face; a dagger right through my chest!  Science is more often than not frustrating.  Yes, I know.  Thank you very much for the constant reminder.

I walked home with a heavy heart. But found myself consoling me by taking pictures of…. hmmmm.. what else?  Plants. Of course.

Thanks to the therapeutic photoshoot with the plants, I was feeling a lot better.

Later in the evening, I, S and A headed to the city for an Iranian dinner with the rest of the lab.  Tonight we will say goodbye to F, one of my favorite postdoc in the lab.  It is sad.  I will definitely miss my mentor. But also happy for him with his new job!

One thing in science is people come and go so fast.  As a scientist you really have to move around. I think it is a curse (not necessarily bad) that comes with science.  Although, I still have to figure out if this is actually good or bad.  It is an essential and inevitable change that scientists have to live with, I guess.

This is a typical yogurt drink in Iran. It is a sour yoghurt with salt!  It actually tastes like a green sour mango dipped in salt, but in liquid form. Hehe.

F, who is half German and half Iranian, explained that since it is so hot in Iran, you need salt to replenish all those perspired salt from the body.  Hmmm… that make sense.  But then again, if you take in salt in a hot weather, better be sure to take in lots of water too! =P

So F, goodbye, but see you later! Okay?

I thought I will retire to my bed feeling a lot better despite today’s frustrations in the lab….

until I saw something (or someone) that just broke my heart. 😦

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The woman scientist

Call me a SCIENTIST.

This is what I do. This is what I like to do. This is what defines me. This is what I do best. Does not necessarily mean that I am a GOOD scientist. No, I am NOT. At least not YET.

The life of a budding scientist is FUN. A little exciting. A lot more frustrating. Full of anxiety. Overflowing with uncertainty. And loaded with reproach. Like a lab rat´s. Subject to constant experimentation and a lot of thinking. Not necessarily research related thinking. It is actually more of a how-to-live-life kind of thinking. In fact, I am constantly confronted with when-does-life-begin kind of questions.

But yeah! It is fun! It is a LEARNING process. An education. A TRAINING.

And I highly encourage you to indulge in science. And in math. I do like to recommend that parents expose their children to early scientific endeavors. Take a day trip to a museum. Or a zoo. Watch Discovery channel or national geographic.

It is fun. Really.

Scientists can be the coolest! Don’t they look peppy on their lab coats? They are one of the most respected personalities in academic institutions and in multi-million dollar agricultural and biomedical companies around the world. People look up to them. People actually believe them. So don’t you wanna be one of them?

This may sound a lot of fun, but wait. Let’s take a look at the behind the scenes of becoming a scientist. So what does it take to be a hard core scientist?!

First of all, hard work. You must be dedicated and focused. (Get focused alright! Not facebooking!) You do not have to be smart. But you really have to work hard. Success is dependent on effort (and sometimes on luck).

You have to be charming. And a good salesman. You should be persuasive and persistent. If you are eloquent, then that´s a plus. This is needed because you have to get funds. The lab is one of the most expensive places you can ever think of. Thousands of dollars can be spent on a single day. But this is not my problem for now. This is my boss´s job. 😛

You should be friendly too. And be able to work with a team. Scientists need to work with one another. Work together. Help each other. Science is unlike business. It is not about competition really. You only got each other. You speak the same language, and it is only you who understand each other. And especially for young scientists, you need to establish connections. So why not try to smile a little bit more?

Resistant. Or get immuned! If you know what I mean…

Resistant to and be able to work under extreme conditions. One time in my previous lab, the air-conditioning shut down. It was the height of summer. No electric fans are allowed as this will result to contamination of samples with dirt and dust being flown into the air. With the lab gown on and gloves on, it was like hell. And when you are handling proteins, the need for a cold room is apparent. Shifting back and forth from 37 degrees C to 4 degrees C is a big sh*t! To say that that is terrible is an understatement. But when you are paid to work, you have to work. Work in extreme conditions that is.

If you can, try hard to develop immunity. The lab is one of the most dangerous places you can ever be. So develop immunity to all the harmful chemicals and reagents you are handling everyday, be extra careful with everything you do, and be a freak, if that will help you at all.

Speed eating. Stretch-bladder-stretch. And automatic reset. These are some of the most useful features too!

Messed up body clock is not uncommon among lab rats. Most often you won´t be able to eat, pee, and sleep on time. Not regularly. You tend to develop faulty sleeping habits that will automatically turn on during seminars and conferences while it is almost always off during the wee hours. You also develop unhealthy eating habits. You crave for caffeine and MSG loaded instant noodles all the time.

When working in the lab, eat when you have time to eat, pee when you have time to pee. And do it fast! I probably can win an eating contest if I must! Hmmm.. May be that´s not a bad idea. I can even put it on my CV as a talent, don´t you think?

So now I ask, do you have what it takes to be scientist? Before you answer YES, put in mind that scientists are often tagged as WEIRD. And when that happens, you must be proud to say “Hell yeah, I´m a scientist. I´m supposed to be weird.”

J.

 

(The picture of the woman scientist isn´t mine. I got it somewhere from the web.)

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