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Posts Tagged ‘PhD’


On a saturday night, the PhD students of plant sciences, bioinformatics and medical sciences gathered in an apartment at Poststrasse and played mixology, aka, cocktail mixing.

I had very little knowledge about cocktails, and even much more limited idea on mixing.  But the scientist in me knew this is gonna be a fun little experiment.  So before I went to the cocktail party with a bottle of tequila, I googled a bit on the topic.  I was surprised.  There is in fact a term molecular mixology (!).  Mr. Wiki defined it as:

Molecular mixology is the term applied to the process of creating cocktails using the scientific equipment and techniques of molecular gastronomy.

These methods enable the creation of greater intensities and varieties of flavour, flavour combinations and different ways of presenting drinks, for example using gels, powders, foams, atomised sprays etc., as well as affecting the appearance of the cocktail.

Isn’t it cool?!  I am, BTW, eversince I can remember, have always been intrigued and interested in food science.

Going back to the party… Since we are so fond of experimenting and we just can’t get enough of it, we experimented on some ingredients and tried our hands and taste buds on them.  With some alcoholic drinks, fruit juices, syrups, sugar powder, and ice cubes in hand, equipped with the usual kitchen stuff like knife, cutting board, glasses and shaker, and geared with the most important experimental protocol recipe, we had fun cutting, mixing, and tasting.

The recipe.

We started with a simple drink Mojito – In a glass, gather some fresh mint leaves and tear them down (or crush it a little), add some brown sugar, throw in 3-4 ice cubes, pour some Sprite until half glass full, and add a punch of rum.  Ahhhh!  Refreshing and so easy to make!

After our first drink, we next prepared the colorful drink Tequila sunrise – Add a couple of milliliters of Tequila, pour in cold orange juice until half full, slowly pour in about 20 ml of grenadine syrup, and watch as the rich red color of the syrup slowly diffuse into a gradient with the orange  juice to create a layer of  “sunrise” colors.  Beautiful (!).

The next is a fairly strong Alibi – In a shaker, add 10 ml grenadine syrup, 10 ml cream, 80 ml vodka, and 30 ml amaretto. Throw in some  crushed ice and give it a hard shake.  Pour into a fresh glass and enjoy every sip.

What I really liked about this drink is the after taste.  On my first sip, I was a bit frightened by the very strong kick of vodka. But right after the vodka, my mouth is tickled with the pleasant taste of amaretto, the sweet syrup, and the richness of the cream.

This next drink was popular to the girls of the group. I call it the Pitu lemon –  Cut a fresh green lemon into cubes and throw it in a glass.  Crush the lemon until its juices came out, add a spoonful of brown sugar, throw in a handful of crushed ice, and add about 10 to 20 ml of Pitu.  Mix thoroughly and enjoy a refreshing drink perfect for a warm summer night along the beach.  Only, we are in a kitchen in a cold gray night.  But it was not that bad.  And we had fun!

This last mix was my favorite.  I call it Vipul’s concoction – In a shaker, pour in Pitu, grenadine syrup, and cream (sahne) in 1:1:1 by volume, throw in lots of crushed ice, and give it a really hard shake.  Pour it in a glass and get creative with some cocktail decorations.  Here we used a slice of green melon secured on one side of the glass and on it stacked an umbrella and a toothpick carrying a fruit tomato.  You can also throw in some cranberries which are perfect to complement this creamy drink.

Cocktails are great for entertaining.  We had so much fun mixing and drinking.  Just perfect for a rather cold and boring weekend. Cocktail parties will definitely be in my schedule the next time I entertain.  And oh! I can’t wait to try this with my best friend!  Only, we are in the opposite sides on the world 😦

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The IMPRS PhD program in the Max Planck Institute holds a retreat once a year, attended by all the students as well as the supervisors/teachers. And March 28-30, 2011 was my first retreat. It was held at Hotel Nassau Oranien in Hadamar.

I do not know what to expect. But I know that I need to give a 20-minute talk or presentation about my project.  Every student should. And we will do this for the next 3 days.  It does not sound a lot of fun, does it? Nevertheless, I was excited.  The week before the said retreat, I was already looking forward to it, even though I was not prepared for my talk until the very last night before my presentation.  I was scheduled to present on the last day, so I thought, I still have some time to prepare during the retreat itself.

I was excited.  To take pictures, what else? (!).  I just bought this new camera just in time for my retreat. And hell yeah!  I  made myself lots of pictures.  And beautiful photography it was!  (more photos can be seen here!)

Aside from my photography, I actually enjoyed the talks given by my classmates.  I admired them for the work they have done.  I admired me, for getting myself into such a beautiful PhD program.  And I praise and thank God for this wonderful opportunity He has given me.

I learned a lot from my classmates’ presentations. I enjoyed the discussions and exchange of ideas after every talk.  I embraced the opportunity to interact with the professors and scientists. I delighted in smart talks with beautiful smart people of our very own scientific community. I savored the meals (specially the fish and sea food dishes) served at our hotel. I celebrated the visit to the lovely town of Hadamar. And I cherished the bonding times with my mates.

And so, until the next retreat!

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The path to becoming a scientist

Wow, I actually survived the first retreat!  Thank God.

Although I have not gotten over the hang of it, today is “back-to-work” day.  I have to admit I somehow missed the lab and my labmates. Seriously. That should not come as a surprise actually.

So as much as I want to share and write about my experiences during the retreat, I do not have much time to do so at the moment.  I need to be back to the lab remember?  Nevertheless,  I will show you some snapshots I took during the retreat.  I think pictures speak louder than words. So enjoy the photos as much as I did enjoy taking and admiring them!  May these photos lure you into our world.  So go on, come on in, and maybe, just maybe, you can join us in our travel into the PhD world!  It can be fun, you know? Believe me, please.

I will post some more retreat stuff this weekend. I promise.

The first Arabidopsis plant seen during the retreat. Thanks to Maarten 😀

Parasitic plants growing on tree branches; that looks like bird nests from afar. Interesting?

I've learned that hotels here in Germany, perhaps especially in religious regions, provide bibles in every room.

The view from our hotel room- the big mansion on the left is a private music boarding school for boys.

The conference hall on the second day of the retreat

"Time for coffee- Do stupid things faster with more energy" 😀

Caffeine is a regular part of the PhD life, at least for me.

A picturesque view of the small lovely town of Hadamar

Lovely Hadamar

Ah... the sound of dripping water!

A church on a hill

On the church wall

Stained church window in black and white

The city hall of Hadamar at 10 minutes before 18:00 in the evening

The PhDs on their walk looking around admiring the city

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