Is Majoring In Biology Really Hard?

I get few emails and DMs asking if pursuing a Biology degree is really hard. The fact is it all depends, let me explain. Majoring in Biology is something you must want to do and not something you kind of want to do. That should be applied to everything you do in life, but definitely when you’re talking about getting a degree in a science or engineer program. Why? Because getting a degree in these fields require a lot of dedication and self-sacrifice to get. If you’re more worried about partying it up in college every chance you get don’t even attempt to try to obtain a degree.

Biology is a subject that you must retain information that must be learn. You can’t go through college just memorizing stuff here and there. You have to be able to use your understanding to formulate or solve problems in hypothetical situations. On the college level, be prepared for very technical material and lots of hard work.

I can’t stress enough to put in the hours studying. Most likely you’ll only will have to take four or five test a semester for a class. If you’re taking a class and not doing the lab that corresponds with the course, you’re doing it wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t get something in class, but when I did it in the lab it all made sense. Also be active with your professors. They might have other learning material or references that will help you. Get involve in the biology club and other events. There you can meet new people and can form up study groups and be strong support system for each other.

Obtaining a biology degree is quite the challenge. It was for me anyways, but it’s so worth it. Now I’m working in a research lab while obtaining my masters. The truth is the learning will never stop. Science is always ever changing and you have to stay in top on things.

So relax, study hard, stay dedicated and continuing to dream of where you going to be after you obtain the degree. Choose easy electives to help bump up your GPA. People from all over the world from different walks of life are able to obtain the degree. There’s no reason you can’t. The biggest thing is to believe in yourself and dream of where that degree can take you.

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Biology Questiones I Get Asked That Make Me Facepalm!

One thing I don’t like doing is talking about my job or academic subjects that involves my grad school courses because they already take up an enormous part of my life. When I’m out and about I want to do/talk something that’s completely unrelated. However, one of the 1st questions you’ll get asked when meeting someone new is: What do you do for a living? And here is when I give a gentle smile and tell the induvial I do research for a university, and pray I don’t get bombarded with crazy questions. Just to be clear, I’m not the type to put people beneath me because I think my job is more “prestigious” than others, but lately though I’ve been getting some crazy questions. Mind you that most of these questions comes from when I’m at a bar downtown with my friends watching football games or hanging out, but here are some of my favorite questions I got asked before.

A man around his 40s asked “That’s amazing my dude… Tell me though. What’s the boiling point for semen?” I literally almost spit up my vodka. What kind of research do you actually think I do at the uni?! What really got me is that this guy acted like he was genuinely offended that I didn’t know this and questioned my whole existence as a biologist. Put down that martini. That’s enough alcohol for you old man.

This girl that claims she was in human anatomy was talking about baby gender determination. It all went downhill when she asked this question. “If two lesbians have a baby, does it automatically come out as a girl?” At first, I was totally convinced that this girl was trolling me, but it became clear that she was dead serious when she was cursing me out and getting red because I told her that two lesbians can’t have a child because an egg and an egg can’t produce an offspring. Till this day I’m still confused on what the fuck happened back then.

At one of my coworker’s party I was describing how to do simple stoichiometry for finding out how much of a particular chemical is produced in some cycle. He then asked. “Oh wait! So .5 and a half are the same thing?” ……. Why yes ….Yes it is…Mr. Lawyer guy.

Anyways. That’s three that I find myself still shaking my head over. Sometimes very interesting conversations can come up, but not in these cases.

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Passing The Torch: Mentoring The Younger Generation

It seems like the older you get the faster life moves, and if you get busy you can lose track of that time. Sometimes I really have to sit down and tell myself that I’m 26 years old. Most of the times, I honestly feel like I’m not over 25, and that can be from everyone telling me I don’t look older than 22. When we are young we often to look up to others for answers, which usually a role model, or a mentor. A mentor can be someone you know or don’t know personally. The question is: How do you react when you become that certain role model to someone?

For those that don’t know, I work full time in a lab helping Dr. Bennett and sometimes helping other Dr’s with their current research at the uni. A job that I landed around August of last year. At the same time, I’m attending grad school. Between working with individuals with a higher education level and grad school studies I’m just trying to absorb everything I can from them. Recently, I’ve been assigned two undergrads to follow me as part of their internship. The realization hit me pretty quick. I didn’t get a say so about these two, but now I’m the source they’re looking to sponge information from about their careers. Dr. Bennett ask me how it was going, and for the most part it’s been pretty smooth. I never been in a mentor position in a field that means everything to me. Then there’s my little sub section in my Army National Guard unit. Recently, I received a positive counseling statement for going “beyond” my duties to help new soldiers in the unit. It’s something I take pride in knowing that I can help others with my experience. For others out there you may have to obtain this role much earlier than I had too. You may come from a household that required you to grow up quickly because of certain circumstances.

Whatever the situation, it’s natural for us to slide into the roles whether it’s welcomed or not. We should all strive to be a positive influence to somebody. You may hear athletes or someone say being a role model isn’t in their job description and that’s true, but you hold the power to change someone outlook on life. A small speech here, or attendance there can change someone you interact with for the better. A small amount of your time can make a difference. It may just even mold you to being a better person. The most precious resource is another living being. They have the capacity to become our future doctors, lawyers, etc. No matter what background they come form.

As a researcher, it’s reality that we may never see the fruition of our current research. It’s a selfless community. I will most likely won’t be alive to reap the benefits of a world where we can grow any organ, transradial prosthesis that functions like a real limb, treatments that allow the disabled to be able again, and the science to boost the human lifespan to 100+ years. Like the older guys here, I will do what I can and mentor the young, and pass the torch for them to continue when I’m not able too. As people, we should carry the same selfless attitude. Help others find their way. One day they might be that doctor, and may surpass you in terms of financial wealth, but to me you will receive something more valuable than money. You helped someone that is now taking care of a community.

So whether it’s your kids, cousin, coworker, community, or a nation just know that someone is watching you. They may not tell you, but your actions can dictate how they form as a person.

My 1st proposal to bring stem cell research to my uni!

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Above is the 1st page of 46 that makes up my proposal to start doing stem cell research at my work.  I’ve been working on it since December gathering all the facts I need to pitch this to the research department.

I have high hopes for this to get implemented, but like anything else, I sometimes get doubts. The budget is way more than the other projects we currently have going on here, so I’m hopeing they’re not going to get turned off by the cost. There’s plenty resources that would help us fund for this research. Other thing is you may of heard about the controversy around stem cells. You can create artificial stem cells without harvesting them for embryos, but Texas is a very conservative state. Politics may shoot my proposal down before it even have a chance. I believe the majority on the research board wouldn’t think like that, and it won’t be a factor. Lastly, I have a bachelor’s degree, and not a PhD. Top it off I haven’t been working here for a year yet. They may look at me and say I’m naive because I’m still pretty new, and the whole nine yards. The content of my proposal should silence the no-sayers on that issue.

I always overhear conversations changing the direction of the research here to be more ambitious. Even if my proposal fail, I believe it will get nging our approach  on the matter. Dr. Bennett looked over it and said I should definitely submit it, so by the end of this week it shall be done.

A huge thank you to my parents. They emailed, texted, and called me everyday to keep developing this proposal. I maybe live 9hrs away, but the support haven’t changed since I was a dorky 6 year old with my crazy ambitions. Also, thank you Bella, Clay, Anna, Rosilia, Liz, Jamie, Allie, Dr. Bennett, Dr. Lawson, Terrance, Terrell, Pat, Ju, Stephanie, Dr. Williams, and Jared for your direct support during all of this. I may be going overboard on the thank you, but I appreciate you guys!

Progress of my microbio bacteria research here at work!

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So the bacteria that I am currently working with is called C.perfringens and is a common soil bacteria that is also found in association with mammals as a commensal and sometimes as a pathogen. There are five serotypes (A-E), each associated with a set of different diseases and target organism which is either a mammal or poultry. C.perfringens is capable of producing up to 16 different toxins, although these are rarely expressed all at once. It is a saprophyte, so decays dead matter – hence most of its toxins are hydrolytic enzymes. The most common diseases caused by C.perfringens is food poisoning and necrotic enteritis (chickens).

It is also the fastest growing bacteria, with a doubling time of 10 minutes (E.coli’s doubling time is 20 minutes). It is an obligate anaerobe which makes it tricky to grow. I have to essentially streak it out onto TSC agar and then add a second layer of agar on top of that to create a highly anaerobic microenvironment. I also need to leave these microbes in an anaerobic chamber over night to completely remove any possible source of oxygen from their surroundings.

The final thing I want to mention is the TSC media I use to grow them. This media contains a source of sulphite which C.perfringens is able to reduce which is what causes the bacteria to show up black on these plates. They are one of the few Clostridia that can reduce sulphite, so this media acts as a differential media for C.perfringens.

-JiNX
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NASA inventions that we take for granted.

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One thing that gets under my skin is when people think that NASA should be disbanded because it’s not really benefiting mankind. Well here is a list of some inventions that came from NASA that you may not know about or take for granted.

The Computer Microchip: The microchips that we use today decent from integrated circuits used in the Apollo Guidance Computer.

Insulation: One thing I know we’re all happy about is that we need to run our heat 24/7 to stay warm. Well thank NASA for saving you a couple of bucks on your bill. Home insulation uses reflective material that protects the spacecraft from radiation.

The Super Soaker: Dude…. The childhood memories…. Thank Lonnie G. Johnson, a nuclear engineer who worked for NASA for this invention.

CAT Scanners: Easily one of the best thing that came from NASA. The cancer detecting machine was first used to find imperfections in space components.

Cordless Tools: Power drills and vacuum cleaners were used to drill for moon samples.

Lifeshears (Jaws of Life) You will mainly see this tool with firemen or any other first responder. To be able to cute through twisted metal without putting the passenger in harms way. This tech was first used for the flawless transition of multiple stage rockets.

Water Filters: Water taste even better without those annoying microorganisms. For astronaunts, they still rely on the basic necessities we have plentiful down here on Earth. NASA has upped the ante with its water studies by creating units that can recycle urine into safe drinkable water.

-JiNX
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UK’s Mission Lunar One reaches funding goal on kickstarter.

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Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s announce the Lunar Mission One venture has reach its goal of $942,000 on kickstarter. Lunar Mission One is going to be a robot to drill into the moon’s south pole. Even though the project has reached it’s goal, there’s still many people sending in what they can to help support the project. Generous backers have the opportunity to bury their DNA in a time capsule under the moon’s surface, among other things: To use pioneering robotic technology to significantly further our understanding of the origins and evolution of the Moon and the Earth, and to pave the way for future lunar missions. To launch a global education project to inspire a new generation of children and young people around the world to get excited about space, science and engineering and technology. To create a comprehensive record of the history of humankind and the biosphere of the Earth.

This project gives me hope that general public still have interest in space related missions. The last couple of years you could tell that the public were getting disinterested in human space exploration. One of the main reason I believe is when the nation was struggling economically. I remember hearing outlandish claims that the NASA budget was 25% of the federal budget. When in fact, NASA budget haven’t been close to that percentage. The highest the budget ever got to was 4.4% when we was in the space race in the 1960s.. Going into 2015 NASA got some good news. They will be getting .5% of the federal budget. That’s about $600 million more than what it received in 2013. With the UK’s kickstarter success, NASA’s growing interest and private corporations like Space X being a huge success I’m hopeful for the future of space exploration.

Be sure to check out the Lunar Mission One site listed below.

http://www.lunarmissionone.com/

-JiNX
twitter.com/anolecreole
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