20 November 2009

Titles are hard to think of when you do the same thing every week

So this week has been sort of busy. Now that I am beginnning to really understand my project there seems to be more and more relevant literature to read. Next week will be my first attempt at embedding and sectioning a barnacle sample, perhaps by the end of the week I will have some interesting pictures to show. Also we are hoping to do some electrophoresis. The barnacles that are supposed to producing cement for us to collect have been resuspended, this time using superglue and polystyrene. But now that they are finally sticking up out of the water like we wanted they don't seem to be producing cement. Which is so not good.

Also, in trying to clear out the old cement I must have pulled out more than I meant to. Suddenly large amounts of liquid began to appear from the base of the peduncle. We thought we finally had liquid cement, we were so excited, and there was so much of it. But there was too much, and not long after that the barnacle died. So a bit less excitement then, because it is probably just body fluid. They don't have blood you see, just clear stuff called hemolymph. And then it happened again yesterday with another barnacle (this one lived) and again today. So at least we know that we can get body fluid easily enough. Which will still be interesting to look at, but is not quite a step in the right direction. And why are we suddenly getting body fluid? Perhaps they don't like being kept out of the water? But other researchers have said that it is important to keep them dry to get liquid cement. So we will just have to wait and see, hopefully they won't all die. Of course, if they do we have loads more. Although the mass of barnacles does look sort of smaller. Maybe it is just my imagination?

Still, if it was so easy to do it wouldn't be the focus of two whole PhDs. So next week will also be spent in trying to get more cement being produced. And we also have to try to dissolve the cement so we can do electrophoresis, which other people have done but is really not easy. I mean, that is the point of all this really, that this cement is so strong that you can dissolve it. But in order to study it so that we can maybe make it ourselves we first have to be able to dissolve it so we can look at the individual proteins.

Also there is this thing called intellectual property. It means that what you discover belongs to you, and you can patent your discoveries and call yourself an inventor, even though you didn't invent these genes and proteins, you just discovered them. But in order for nobody else to steal your intellectual property before you can publish it and take the credit, you have to keep your results secret. So perhaps I shouldn't tell anybody about my work and perhaps I shouldn't show the pictures of our findings? But wouldn't it be exciting to have a patent? Hopefully our lab will be able to get one.

And in about three weeks I will be going to my first workshop. It is for the Beaufort Biodiscovery Programme, which is the grant that is funding the other PhD. Mine is funded by Science Foundation Ireland or something like that. It will be in Queens in Belfast, which is Northern Island. So that is part of the UK, although it won't seem like it really is still the same country. Hopefully it will be interesting. Don't have to present or anything like that, it is really to soon. There are no results yet. Maybe a poster but nothing to put on a poster yet either, except background stuff.

So this week there has been some talk of the trip to Vienna, Austria. I can't wait. There is a workshop in January for histology, and another in March for ultrastructure. The big problem is finding somebody to look after the barnacles for that time. But we will see, I have some ideas about it. There may be a student coming who can do it for a project, but we can't rely on that, we need a back-up plan. I hope that the Austria thing can be the whole three month, January through March, because only one session for Austria is in the plan and the budget, so I would prefer that it is as long as possible. My supervisor doesn't want to lose her students for so long though. She just want results right now, basically the moment she thinks of something she would like to see it done and successful. Crazy.

Of course if I am going to spend the first couple of months of next year in Austria I think I should perhaps not bother looking for accomodation for semester two. I mean, I don't have much stuff yet, whatever I don't take with me I can pack up real tidy and store with someone, or maybe even in my office. But it is so much easier to just not worry about it and look forward to going to Vienna, it sounds so good. It will be cold though, and maybe snowy.

And for christmas I am probably going to Abu Dhabi. It will be hot there, yay. It will be winter of course but far warmer than here. And next week Mum is actually coming to stay, she has a holiday and brought the ticket on a whim just a couple of days ago. And yet it was cheaper than what my christmas one will be. I guess travel just costs more so close to christmas. So we will do the touristy stuff, I haven't done much of it yet because I have been sort of broke. And then I will go to Abu Dhabi for christmas and just try to enjoy the heat. I will probably take work with me, but it will still seem like a holiday to get away from this cold and rain.

It looks like my next few weeks will be really busy. In fact I am just always really busy. I mean, there is only about a month until Christmas and in that time Mum is coming here, I am going there, there is the big workshop conference thing in Queens, a small PhD workshop at uni (that will probably not be that interesting) and a couple of Christmas parties and of course work to be done and results to be produced - for the workshop and also because my supervisor is working on a book chapter which is due in December. And then right after christmas it is January, which might mean going to Austria. So soon! How exciting.

Also, today it hasn't rained yet. Also amazing. Considering that it has been so bad that all the roads outside the city are flooded.

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