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Chixor May 26, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Uncategorized.
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Interesting conversations going on out there about women in blogging and the tech/science world in general.  Scobleizer looks at why he thinks there aren't many A-list [tech] bloggers and over at Adventures in Ethics and Science, Janet explores if women maybe avoid science because they are less likely to embrace the "nerd" culture.  (Thanks to Tara at Aetiology for pointing to that post.)  I've said plenty in my comments on Scoble's blog, so I'll just add one more thing here:  Just because we have good hygiene and fashion sense, doesn't mean we aren't interested in writing some mean code! 

Welcome aboard, Nancy! May 25, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Blogging, Social, Technology.
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My friend and fellow bookworm, Nancy Folsom, has started a blog.  I look forward to seeing bare her technical side as she blogs about programming, geeky technical stuff, and business.  From one newcomer to the next, welcome! 

Another complete mapping of the genome May 25, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Genetics.
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I was just catching up on my latest favorite finds in the blogosphere, Genetics Health and DNA Direct Talk.  They reported that on the 17th, scientists published the sequence of the last of the human chromosomes (chrom 1).  I think this is about the third time we've "completed" the genome, but it does get better every time. 

There is an excellent article titled "Human genome completed (again)" at news@nature.com that talks about the details and history in lay terms (unfortunately you need a subscription to view).  And something new I didn't know about, they have a link to a blog where you can discuss the article.  Pretty neat, although only 2 people have commented. 

The Research Proposal May 18, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Research.
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Where have I been????  I was so excited to finally have a blog and I have so many things I want to post, but finding the time lately has not been easy.  Besides trying to get over my worst sinus infection yet, I was writing my very first research proposal. 

From an undergraduate perspective this is both harder and easier than it sounds.  It is more difficult because I'm trying to explain computational genetics concepts and techniques that are extremely new to me, without having a single genetics class under my belt (into biology courses don't count).  It is easier in some ways than more advanced researchers deal with, because I have the help of my research advisor and hopefully, those on the committee understand that I'm still learning and they only ask for a mere 3000 words. 

The strangest thing to me was the organization of the paper.  I was really good at writing essays for English teachers, but with research papers/proposals you get to have headings, lists of hypotheses, and even figures (fancy!).  I think this is actually much easier to read than the traditional essay.  It's very easy to get the point across.  English teachers probably consider it cheating.   

I was surprised at the number of applicants for this particular research award, since it is specifically for undergraduates at my university who have completed at least three quarters of research already.  I don't know hardly any other undergraduate researchers, besides the few I met through my fellowship last summer.  Did any of you do undergraduate research (science or other fields)?          

One Ring, Two Ring, Red Ring, Blue Ring May 9, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Humor.
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This is a small, but hopfully growing, ongoing list of scientific papers (published and unpublished) from researchers with a sense of humor.   

This one got published:  New Dust Belts of Uranus: One Ring, Two Ring, Red Ring, Blue Ring  When I forwarded it to my lab's PI, he wasn't as amused as I.  I must have a reputation, because I think he thought I was serious when I asked if I too could name my paper after a Dr. Seuss book.

This one you just have to read (not published, thank god): Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass.  My husband has two degrees, one in Comp Eng and one in physics and I think the conclusion pretty much sums up how he feels about physics too.  (Correct me if I'm wrong, dear.)

Return to Oz: microRNA, Sleep, Cotton, Astronomy, and Nature May 8, 2006

Posted by Sacha in microRNA, Science.
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Before this old news gets any older, I must tell you all about my latest adventure in Australia. 

[The following events take place in the month of March, 2006.]

We started out by visiting the University of Sydney/RPAH.  While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. John Rasko, head of the Gene therapy Unit at the Centenary Institute.  Researchers there have developed techniques for identifying and quantifying microRNA expression in cells.  Dr. Rasko has an entire team working on identifying microRNA function, so I look forward to posting news of breakthrough research from this outstanding group in the future. 

Next on the itenerary was lunch with sleep researcher, physician extraordinaire, and friend, Dr. David Joffe.  David has fun depriving people of sleep in the name of science.  Read about it here.

And on to my favorite part of the trip, the whirlwind cotton adventure through the bush (AKA outback), a personal tour from my in-laws.  First, we visited Auscott, where I got to see the latest in cotton ginning technology.  Next we went to the CSIRO cotton fields, where we saw many varieties of experimental stage cotton.  There was even a tiny, old gin that we put seedy cotton in and out came a fluffy ball of cotton! (City slickers are so easy to amuse!!)

A few things I've learned about cotton over the years:

  • Cotton lint comes in colors, including brown, green, and red, but the fiber quality isn't as good as the traditional white.

  • The flowers are pretty, yellow hibiscus.  Egyptian cotton has the prettiest flowers.

  • Researchers breed and genetically modify cotton to be resistant to bugs.  This cool technology is what originally got me interested in doing genetics research.  By making special breeds of cotton, scientists have had a positive impact on farm worker health, the environment (less pesticides), and the economy.

Rounding out the outback portion of the trip, we visited the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), also in Narrabri and run by CSIRO.  This facility has an array of six 22-meter antennas used for radio astronomy.  Fun fact: The antennas reside on a track that is a truly straight line – it doesn't follow the curvature of the Earth. (For this to make sense, you have to buy into the "Earth isn't flat" theory.)  The site I linked to above has great photos and lots more information.

Australia is a MUST for any science lover with $US1500 to spend on a plane ticket.  Even trumping the great research is the natural beauty and diversity of animals.  In a typical trip, we will see kangaroos, goannas, cockatoos, and many other creatures in the wild.  But, the best part is the warmth, hospitality, and cooking of the people.  Thank you to everyone who made this a memorable trip for us.

 

Boring until further notice May 8, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Uncategorized.
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I've had to switch my theme back to the default.  This makes me sad.  
😦  I really liked my first theme called "Fauna," but since it was a beta it was making it difficult to use WordPress features.  Once I am better at this, I'll switch it back or make my own.  This should only take a few years. 

On a positive note, switching back to the default fixed my blogroll issue.  Let the linking begin!

Mouse miR155 May 6, 2006

Posted by Sacha in microRNA.
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Here is an excellent example of just how vital microRNAs can be.  According to the lay article on Ohio State University's website, "Scientists in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center say that just one, single, malfunctioning microRNA is sufficient to cause cancer in mice."  This microRNA is mouse miR155.

It loks like what they did was create transgenic mice with miR155 and an enhancer, to promote expression.  The mice developed enlarged spleens at 3 weeks of age.  The spleens were enlarged with immature B cells, a hallmark of some leukemia and lymphoma.  

The research was reported in PNAS on April 25, 2006 titled: "Pre-B cell proliferation and lymphoblastic leukemia/high-grade lymphoma in Emu-miR155 transgenic mice" with authors Stefan Costinean, Nicola Zanesi, Yuri Pekarsky, Esmerina Tili, Stefano Volinia, Nyla Heerema, and Carlo M. Croce at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ohio State University.

Linky May 4, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Uncategorized.
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I've imported my bookmarks to get the blogroll going, but for some reason they're not showing up.  If you know a WordPress quick fix before I figure it out, please write a comment and clue me in.  Anyway, check back in a few days when they're up and put up a post if you don't see yours and you think it should be on there.  I'd especially like to get all the Divas Book Club members' blogs up, friends' blogs, and links to blogs with similar subjects.

I have so much news I want to post about that I've been saving up over the past month(s), so I can't wait to have all the hosting issues sorted out.  Shouldn't be long now!

Post Number One! May 3, 2006

Posted by Sacha in Uncategorized.
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Welcome to Ribonucleoblog – the fun place to chat about science news, noncoding RNA, and my current fascination: microRNA.  While I work (occasionally) in a evolutionary/population genetics lab, I hope to keep this an upbeat place to talk about new ideas, not rehash the same age-old evolutionary vs. creationism arguments.  I am a mere undergraduate researcher, so please correct me if I get my facts incorrect and drop me a line if I've missed important news in the advancement of microRNA research.  

I'd like to thank my friends Maryam and Robert Scoble who helped get me on my way to blogging.  With his book Naked Conversations (shameless plug), Robert motivated me to start a blog in my field and with Maryam's practical advice it has happened (now you can finally link to me, Maryam!).   

Thanks for visiting!