We're a little crazy, about science!

The return of big idea

I had hoped to discuss robot paper today, but something more exciting has happened so today we’re talking about the “big idea’ I had a while back. It feels like it’s been forever since I had the idea, but things were moving slowly lately so we’ve had to wait. I’m happy to say the wait is finally over! If all goes well, by the end of the week I’ll have the first dataset from big idea and I am very excited!

Some days it feels like nothing goes right. Thankfully today is not that day! Between the first paragraph of this post and now I’ve had several excited discussions with hospital-PI about “big idea” and how we want to structure the experiment so that we get the most out of the big event. And let me just say, it’s going to be big! I’m very excited about what we’re about to do and this time it will for sure happen.

We already have our participant lined up, they agreed to help us with the project, and as I mentioned earlier… I think, I can’t find the post, we have IRB approval for the project so nothing is holding us back now. We are free to collect our data! The next few days will be a whirlwind of equipment testing, setting up things for the experiment, and just generally getting things ready for the participant.

You have no idea how much I just want to write out everything we will be attempting and how it could be a really huge deal if everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, I cannot so for the next few excruciating months while we collect the data, I will have to remain extra cryptic and only after we publish can I point back at these posts and say see! This is what I was talking about over here. Until then though, this is about as much info as I can give.

I’m not even sure how much I can be vague about. It feels like a major step to a whole new way of doing things and it could be a game changer for a lot of the research we’re doing. As with everything I attempt, that is IF it works. Big IF since no one has done it, or else it wouldn’t be a big idea, it would just be a regular sized idea (haha). Still, I can’t help but imagining the implications and all the exciting ways we will use this technique.

Since I don’t have a budget for this project, I’m working on it using general lab funds. Because of that, I have to be extra crafty in how I structure the experiments we do so that I maximize what we can do while minimizing costs. So no fancy or expensive diagnostics (MRI time costs money!) and nothing can be done about that for now. However, being creative is becoming my specialty and I’ve managed to build all the equipment for the project for less than a few hundred dollars. So cheap I could’ve funded the project myself if I wanted (with some saving, I don’t normally have a few hundred dollars laying around… although I wish I did!).

Point being from a research perspective, where equipment can cost upwards of 5 figures per item, what I’m doing doesn’t even phase the budget. I was given almost 10x more than what I spent for the project, which was still a comparatively tiny amount (“just” a few thousand, never thought I would say that…).

So I’ve managed to come up with creative solutions to the budget problem to produce a paper that I feel (assuming all goes well) is top tier journal worthy. In fact, if (again IF!!) all goes according to plan, we’ll end up with two papers from this particular dataset, both will be “high impact” which is science speak for a big deal. This of course assumes two things, (1) succeed in collecting/processing/making sense of the data like I hope and (2) no one else does it first.

Now personally I feel like (1) is a non-issue. I’m fairly certain that what I’m proposing will work and will work well. We just need to collect the dataset so I can know for certain. That’s not my main issue. My main issue is with (2) and as hospital-PI mentioned today, there are probably several other labs who are having similar discussions about doing what we’re about to do. Which is why we’re going to publish this sooner rather than later. Once again, making my life as hard for myself as possible (throwback to yesterday’s post).

In any case, I’m excited. I’m about to do something I’ve been imagining for a very long time, well before I had “big idea” I wanted to do this, I just had no idea how I would be able to do it. If you had asked me this time last year if I thought I would be doing this, I would’ve said there was no possible way.

It’s funny what one idea can do for a person.

But enough about us, what about you?

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