Hello, I’m an #ActualLivingScientist (AMA)

I’ve seen a lot of calls recently for scientists to do some outreach and explain to the general public what they do for a living, how science works, etc.

A major effort came in February after David Steen, PhD (@AlongsideWild), tweeted that “most Americans can’t name a living scientist.” With some help from Mary Roblyer (@darthmom7), the hashtag #actuallivingscientist took off on Twitter, with scientists introducing themselves and their work.

So…hi!  I want to do something similar here, as well as open the floor up for questions.

My Science Career

I have a Bachelor’s in Zoology from a small, four-year liberal arts university, with emphasis on genetics and animal behavior.  I received an honors diploma for my independent study research on developmental genetics of C. elegans, a tiny hermaphroditic roundworm.  (I also had to sit an exam, but that’s less exciting.)  I also did internships at zoos, doing animal care work as well as observational research on various animal behavior.

After graduation I worked as a zookeeper and then at an animal shelter for a few years.

I currently work at a medical school in the research department.  I am a research assistant in a lab that investigates how to grow new blood vessels in hearts with heart disease, using stem cells created in the lab.  I have been listed as an author on several papers we have published in research journals.

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I also make cool designs with my pipette tips when I bored at work.

Ask Me Anything

As part of my outreach, I’d like to invite my readers to ask me anything they are curious about regarding science.  Some topics might include:

  • Daily tasks of my job
  • Current experiments in the field of stem cell therapy for heart disease
  • Where my funding comes from
  • Clarification of any terminology I’ve used in this post
  • How scientific papers get published
  • Science in science fiction
  • How science intersects with my religion
  • My opinions of current science topics in the news
  • What kind of music I listen to in the lab

For personal and professional reasons, I can’t give too many details about my current work.  But I will do my best to answer all your questions as fully as possibly.

Basically, if you ask a sincere, polite question, you will get a sincere, polite answer.  Leave your question in the comments below, and I’ll respond to you there.  If your question is really good, I might even make a whole post about it. 🙂

The questions don’t even have to be about biology; I have plenty of scientist friends in other disciplines I can appeal to.  Though, if you have a very specific question like How much Force power can Yoda output?, I’d encourage you to try submitting it to What If?  because I don’t have time to watch The Empire Strikes Back repeatedly to check the X-wing’s rate of ascent.

Some previous posts I’ve written about science:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

From Kilbeggan, Ireland.

Kilbeggan Distillery is a working distillery, but also a museum where you can see how Irish whiskey was traditionally made.  This Coffey still, named after Aeneas Coffey, is one such method in the process.  Whiskey has been made in Ireland since at least the late Middle Ages, and has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last few decades.  It seems almost synonymous with Ireland’s cultural heritage.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

Fan Art Friday: Sakura calls on JUMP

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Another Cardcaptor Sakura sketch.  Here she has her staff from the second story arc, with the Sakura cards, and she has just used the JUMP card (maybe still in her hand).  The costume is my design.  She has cool boots, and some kind of tulle coming out from an underskirt.

I really like her hair in this one!  And the cape.  I was obviously trying to indicate some movement during her jump.

This is dated 2003 at the bottom.  This is when I was in high school, almost 15 years ago!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting

From Dublin.

My mom actually took this picture, but I don’t think she’ll mind my sharing it.  This is in St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely public park in heart of Dublin.  Our hotel was right across the street, so we walked through the park a lot.  One of my favorite parts was the pond that attracts ducks and other birds.  I could watch ducks all day!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

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From County Cork, Ireland.

 

One of the interesting features of the grounds around Blarney Castle is the Poison Garden.  As the name implies, the plants here are various poisons, including wolfsbane, mandrake, and ricin.  There are signs basically warning you to enter at your own risk, and not touch anything!

Pictured here is common juniper, Juniperus communis, a very common ornamental shrub (especially common in Ireland, too).  The berries are edible, but bitter.  They have some medicinal uses, even possibly acting as a contraceptive or abortifacient.  They are also thought to be toxic to dogs.

Remember, the poison is always in the dose!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

Fan Art Friday: May the Force Be With You

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.

I hope you all had a good Star Wars Day yesterday!  I wore R2-D2 socks at work 🙂

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For this pattern, I was going to do my normal three- or four-color palette, but I got bored partway through and kept adding more colors.  I was originally going to do all the X-wings in blue, but after I did one, I changed my mind.  I remembered that many of the Rebels’ and Resistance’s fighter squads are named after colors, so I went with a rainbow theme to showcase all the different squads that helped take down the Death Stars (and Starkiller Base).

Some of the well-known squadrons include:

  • Blue Squadron (present at the Battle of Scarif)
  • Black Squadron (Poe Dameron’s group present at Starkiller Base)
  • Red Squadron (Luke Skywalker’s group present at the first Death Star)
  • Gold Squadron (actually a Y-wing group, but also present at the Battle of Scarif and the first Death Star)

I’m sure there are more in Legends, also!

I also started doing the swirly parts as gold and green, but got bored partway through and switched to blue and green.  Hence, this month’s picture is very colorful!  Kiri’s is also very colorful; check hers out here!

You can also see a red pencil mark at the bottom of the page; that’s from when I was coloring the picture on the opposite page!  Oops.  Hilariously, I accidentally made a mark on the other page while I was coloring this one…

For next month, I used Kiri’s trick of opening the book to a random page.  But this one looks pretty interesting:

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