We're a little crazy, about science!

Fun with collaborators!

So much has been going on that I can’t even keep up with it. I was debating about what news to share, but I think we’ll talk about something I’ve had in the works for awhile now. Actually I just checked my email exchanges, this has been in the works for over a year and today we finally crossed the threshold from hypothetical to real world data collection!

Since this is involves my research explicitly, I should probably do my semi-regular introduction. I’m a fourth year (woo, still can’t believe it!) PhD candidate in neuroengineering. I have my BS and MS in mechanical engineering and mechanical and neuro are two very different fields, ask me how I know! These days I’m finishing up my PhD (hopefully?), my dissertation topic being my “super secret technique.” Being super secret, I can’t talk about it, but I’m very excited and the preliminary data I’ve had the chance to work with look good, so now I just need more data. Easy, right?

The reason I decided to give my semi-regular introduction is because today I’ve finally got the chance to look at an alternative route to my technique. The truth behind what I’m attempting is that the setup is cumbersome to the point that it is ALMOST not worth doing. With practice I could probably get it down to a more reasonable amount of time and frankly I’ve managed to do it a bit faster as time has gone on, but even then I wouldn’t call it quick.

For that reason, I’ve been looking for alternatives to the technique to make setup faster. I’ve identified at least one alternative, but the issue is that it’s super expensive so convincing hospital-PI to spring for the system has been a challenge. More importantly, it may not even work so while we would have a super fancy system to do some other cool projects with, it would probably just sit in the corner of the lab collecting dust until we got funding for a specific project.

The question then became what is a happy medium between purchasing the device and finding other alternatives that may or may not exist. The answer was collaboration! It turns out that someone from a college local to us had just purchased this big fancy system that costs a lot of money and was willing to speak with us about a collaboration.

After a lot of emails back and forth we got both hospital-PI and collaborator-PI connected and we all agreed the project would be super interesting to try. It’s basically an extension of another protocol we used and it’s something I worked hard on coming up with. This would basically be my PhD project in a nutshell, so I’m hoping it goes well.

After over a year of talking about it and trying to arrange time to collect the data, as of a few hours ago we completed the pilot experiment and now have the data we need to see what we’ve found. Ideally we would have something, even if we don’t we’re not completely out of luck, we just need to reattempt using the equipment I used originally for my work. Success would obviously be the best outcome, since it would be a much faster process to set everything up with, but even a failure will tell us something.

Technically speaking, there were two portions to the project, one of them will almost certainly give us some result, so it will help me verify that the equipment was working properly when we go to check the second part. Anyway, that’s the update for the day. It’s been a busy week already and we’re only on day two, so I should probably get some stuff done.

But enough about us, what about you?

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