Why We Don’t Keep Resolutions

In the Summer of 2020, it is easy to tell ourselves that we’ll call our representatives and sign that petition in the hopes of making change for a better world. But why are the rates of follow-through so low? Why don’t more people do these simple tasks that would have such high impact?

There are, as with most behaviors, many factors at play. One phenomenon that might be involved is premature reward. We can feel good about just the IDEA of doing something. Now that we’ve told ourselves that we’ll take action, we already have the rewarding feeling of dopamine flooding our systems without actually doing anything.

To learn more about how this anticipatory reward works, check out my article on That’s Life [Science].

Getting Into a Lab

What to say, who to contact, and how to reach out shouldn’t be some big secret. Whether you’d like to dip your toes in the water of working in a lab or if you think this will be your life’s calling, the first step will likely be the same. This post walks you through some aspects of your initial contact with a lab that you might not have considered.

Read more about the process of joining a lab in my article published on That’s Life [Science].

Expand Your Mind

Part of our challenge in studying the brain is that it has such small components. For a huge part of human history, we just haven’t had the technology to see neural communication. We continue to be limited by available technology. But one lab is quickly making a name for themselves by thinking outside the box to create new technologies for us to see neural processes. One of Ed Boyden’s relatively recent innovations is called expansion microscopy. It makes things bigger so that we can see what was previously out of reach.

Read more about this cool new technology in my article published on That’s Life [Science].

Going on Autopilot? Thank Your Place Cells

Have you ever found yourself at work in the morning without any specific memories from the commute? How did you manage to get there without thinking about it? Does your brain know how to get you there effortlessly? Pretty much! There are “place cells” in your brain who’s job is to take over in these instances so that you are free to think about other things.

Read more in my article published on That’s Life [Science].

Immunohistochemistry

One man’s illness is another man’s experimental verification method. What is immunohistochemistry and why would we need it? When we want to make specific cells stand out in a crowded jumble, we turn to antibodies and fluorescence. Scientists have developed a tool to study the brain based on the body’s natural immune response.

If you want to know about how that works and how it was developed, read more in my article on That’s Life [Science].

Managing Up

In many ways, the PhD is not so much about science as it is about communication. I’ve learned lessons about how to more effectively communicate with coworkers, advisors, students of all ages, and peers. These lessons don’t always come easily, but they are valuable no matter where I go from here. Anyone with a boss or advisor can benefit from goal sharing, agenda setting, and generally managing up.

For insights into managing up in academia and beyond, read more in my poem published on That’s Life [Science].

Brain Surgery… It’s Not Rocket Science!

I know brain surgery sounds intimidating. Someone who does brain surgeries on a regular basis must be a genius! In reality, it’s probably much lower tech than you’re imagining. I performed my first brain surgery at 19 years old. If you’re interested in neurobiology but are intimidated by the idea of brain surgery, take a look at this article. With proper training, you might find that it’s not so far beyond your abilities.

Read more in my article published on That’s Life [Science].

Is Science for Women?

In the 21st century, a woman can do whatever she wants. If she wants to be an epidemiologist or a geologist, the world is at her fingertips. Some working environments still have not embraced this fact, but she will find a way if science is her passion.

On the other hand, are the studies conducted today executed with women in mind? There are many male-centric experiments today, from basic understanding of how the body works to clinical trials for disease treatment. Whether it’s “exciting enough to justify making this discovery exclusively in males” or too unethical to open clinical trials to anyone who could potentially become pregnant, much of today’s testing includes few-to-no female subjects.

Experiments like mine find that there are fundamental anatomical, chemical, and behavioral differences between males and females. This should be a wake-up call to researchers excluding females in their studies. The results very well may be different with a more diverse sample population! My studies are starting with the addition of females into our experiments, but the future is so much brighter. Soon, we should incorporate implications of these studies on transgender individuals, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, individuals of all ages, etc. It is so easy to run the exact same experiment with half females instead of entirely males, but many labs still refuse.

Many more women are conducting research, but many of the results in these studies go toward making the world a better place for young, rich, white, North American or European men.

Read more about how we got into this situation and what could get us out of it in my article published on That’s Life [Science].

Why Does Alcohol Make You Dizzy?

Your liver can only do so much at once. When you drink more alcohol than your liver can process at the time, it gets released into your bloodstream and into a fluid called the endolymph in your ears. This fluid sloshes around your ears to give you a sense of how your body is oriented in space. If the endolymph is up in the top canal in your ears, then you know you’re upside down; if it is along the side canal, then you know you’re leaning to the side. Alcohol thins out the endolymph so it moves around differently than what your body expects. This process makes you feel dizzy. Knowledge of the scientific processes behind your bodily functions allows you to better monitor your behaviors. You can think back to the biology of alcohol’s effects on your body to know when your liver is overwhelmed and thus when to stop drinking.

Read more in my article published on That’s Life [Science].