Well today is a busy day! I’ve got a lot going on so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have all the setup taken care of. Working in two labs seems like a fun and interesting way to do experiments and it is! It’s also a huge pain.
Here in the US we paused, it was only for a moment, it wasn’t long enough, and not everyone did it, but we paused. Then just as quickly as we tried to adapt to the changing times we went back to pretending everything was normal. Beaches opened, restaurants opened, bars opened, we saw celebrations and parties and we ignored a single digit daily death count, which turned into a double digit, then triple digit, now we’re hovering in at roughly 1000 deaths a day from the pandemic.
Well we still have a month of summer break left, but we do have the end of summer courses coming. In just a week we’re having our undergrad researcher conference (virtually of course). Everyone will get a 5 minute block to showcase their poster, talk about their experience, and get a chance to answer questions about the projects they worked on (another 5 minutes max). The whole thing will take three days to get though.
I was up bright and early today, 4:30am to be exact. We had two experiments planned for the day, one first thing in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Being the dependable person I am, I was up and out on time, arrived here early and setup to get started. That’s when it all fell apart.
Well I got a chance to give my last lecture yesterday (virtually of course) on 3D printing. I worked literally weeks to get everything ready and it went off (mostly) without a hitch. The world of 3D printing is full of vast, multifaceted, and divergent technologies with more applications than I could possibly list in a single lecture. In fact, they offer entire 12 week courses on 3D printing, so I had to cram everything together into a nice 1-2 hour presentation, where to start?!
My 3D printer still working hard, but I’m still having troubles!
Yesterday was the last day for my solid modeling class and surprisingly I got more questions than the previous days so that made me very happy. Today is my 3D printing course, so we’ll talk about how that went tomorrow (and push back our online 3D printing course by a day sadly).
Well yesterday was day 2 of my solid modeling course, today is my last day of the class. Unfortunately tomorrow is my 3D printing course and I still haven’t got my printer well behaved yet. I guess we get to see all the 3D printing troubles! In any case, let’s talk about how the class went yesterday and what I have planned for today.
Well can’t complain too much about the first course. I’m used to people talking to me so it was an odd feeling talking into a screen with no one talking back. I had a few questions, but mostly the course was on how to think about solid modeling, so maybe not a lot of room for questions?
Well I mentioned it a few days ago, but it’s day one of four today. I’m teaching three courses on solid modeling and one on 3D printing * Shakes fist at 3D printer who keeps giving me problems * and I figure I can talk about how my classes go after the fact, but let’s talk about my prep for these classes so my students get the most out of what I have to teach them.
I’m giving a class on 3D printing this week and of course my printer decides it wants to throw a fit. So my print had to be stopped (18 hours in) and the printer needed a good talking to. It’s not the printers fault, maintenance happens, so let’s talk more about my poor FDM printer (Acronym defined yesterday).
Well it’s time, in a few short days I’ll be doing a marathon session of courses for the summer interns. I admit it I bit off a lot! I’m doing three solid modeling courses, so the basics, plus a 3D printing class. Today we’re talking 3D printing because, well it’s a headache even though the prints themselves can be worth the pain. I know if I can pull off printing what I’m working on now it will be worth it… I hope.
Well it’s been two weeks (roughly) and my PI asked specifically that this week I do a review on the state of spinal cord research, with emphasis on the spinal cord stimulation work I’m doing. So this review is going to look slightly different, namely it has a rather long references section (15 total). If you find this research fascinating I recommend “And yet it moves” (reference 5). It’s long, but open access and worth the read. I’m a little bias though, my Co-PI is one of the authors. In any case, I had two weeks to write this, so hopefully it is a good dip into what we know about the spinal cord and a lot of what we don’t. Enjoy!
Today is a bunch of meetings and a bunch of editing. As I mentioned (or at least think I mentioned here), I had to meet with the senior author for the paper I’m working on and I got a lot of feedback, some of it was good, most of it meant more work for me. That’s the process though, write, rewrite, re-re-re-re…rewrite.
Today is going to be fun, I’ve got a ton of meetings, but I also get to do outreach. If you’re a scientist, you can do it too, no matter where you are in the field, sign up at Skype a Scientist. While I wanted to write this post before my sessions I ended up having to write it afterwards so let’s get into what I talk about and how it went.
Ever feel like you’re just going around in circles like a hamster in a wheel? I’ve been working on about a million different things and I just can’t seem to get them off my plate. The work just keeps going and it’s got me somewhat down. Maybe I just need a day off or something.
With everything going on it’s been tough to write about just one topic. When I started 365 days, I started it with the intention of highlighting my struggles and trials through one full year of my PhD with the idea that I may (or may not) keep going for the duration of my PhD process. Then COVID hit, Black lives matter protests took off (finally), and I had the realization that I, like most people, am more than just my studies.
I scream it loudly from the mountain tops, I suffer all the fucking time from mental health issues. I do it because staying silent doesn’t keep me from feeling them and it does nothing for others who are suffering. Yes, it’s embarrassing to talk about it because it feels like a taboo, or something you’re making up, but that’s why we need to talk about it and why you need to keep track of your own mental health.
For those of you not in academia, summertime means we get interns in the lab to learn about how research works in a real-life setting. We typically have them help with things that require basic skills, but lets them see how research really happens. This year, we are doing everything virtually thanks to COVID-19. This is a great thing because it really means we’re doing what we can to stop the spread while still giving students a chance to experience research.
For the past week or so my PI has been away, so I’ve had the chance to work on other projects from home. Unfortunately he returns this week so I’ve got to switch gears from protests, working from home, and undergrad mentoring back to experiments and experimental setup. As the senior student in the lab, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities.
The world is on fire, we’re protesting for a future, but today I have my review paper due so instead of writing about my frustrations I’m going to share my review. Today we’re looking at the effects of trans-spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) on alpha motor neurons and how we can determine that effect using electromyography. It’s actually a very cool paper, the work is well done, and it’s open source so you can read it if you’re interested.
Well today I was planning on posting a quick tutorial for everyone who wanted to learn solid modeling. Have no fear! We’re still going to do it, but that will have to wait to tomorrow. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment and creating a good tutorial from scratch will take a bit of time. What am I doing now? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Day 296: Review – Spinal Rhythm Generation by Step-Induced Feedback and Transcutaneous Posterior Root Stimulation in Complete Spinal Cord–Injured Individuals
Normally I’m somewhat excited to post these, but with everything going on you’ll have to pardon my lack of joy. However, it’s been two weeks so I need to review another paper so I’m sharing it here as well as sending my PI a copy. The study is a few years old, but it’s open access so you can read it if you’re interested. Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (TSS) is one part of my research in case you couldn’t tell from all the spinal cord and TSS studies and posts. I find it interesting and it gives me hope that we can help a whole lot of people living with spinal cord injury. Anyway give it a read and get out there and protest for a better world.
Well it finally happened. We’re doing experiments again. It’s kind of scary to be honest to be working in a hospital again when the pandemic is going on and we have protests still happening. While I could do without the pandemic, I hope with all my heart that the protests don’t end until the corrupt system that caused them ends first.
Day 282: Review – Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation of the cervical cord modulates lumbar networks
It’s that time again! My biweekly critical review paper is due for my PI. He gets a copy and so do all of you. This is a particularly interesting study that falls in line with a lot of research that I am doing, so it’s interesting to see how other groups are progressing. Overall I think this is a great study and while it is behind a paywall, I think I summed it up very well. The drawing they did (above) is awesome, especially for a scientific journal where we normally use simple line figures. Anyway, let’s get to it.