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Posts tagged “school

Day #216: So I’m “essential” now…


Fun fact, I love pandemic movies. Movies, not so much living through one. As humans we are selfish, greedy, prone to panic, and for being “evolved” we are so very, very stupid. Basically every dumb choice you see the characters in those movies make while screaming, “you idiot, that would never happen in real life!” Well, it’s happening and wow does it do a number on a persons mental health. But hey guess what? I’m essential, so let’s figure out what that means in a time where the world is practically on fire.


Day #215: What now?!

look ahead

Social distancing is important, but maybe not this distant…

Well if you missed it, yesterday was our final post in the know your spinal cord series. I’m not crying, you’re crying! Now the question is, what does that mean for the blog? An excellent question, one I wish I would’ve asked myself!  Let’s take a look at some of the things that we will (probably) be discussing now that our designated topic has run its course.


Day #177: Know your spinal cord – Brown-Sequard Syndrome

vintage spinal cord anatomy art

We’ve made it to day twenty in our little series on knowing your spinal cord. As always, you can find each and every post in this series through our neuroanatomy category. Since we’ve covered all the major neuroanatomy, the latest posts have been on spinal cord diseases and disorders. That said, today we’re covering Brown-Sequard syndrome, so let’s take a look at what this is.


Day #176: Know your spinal cord – Spina bifida

spinal dissection

This is day nineteen of knowing your spinal cord! We covered all the big neuroanatomy and while we may go back and cover some of the minor things, we’re in the middle of spinal deformities. For those just starting, we have a neuroanatomy category to make it easy to find these posts. For everyone else, today we’re talking about spina bifida.


Day #175: Know your spinal cord – Diastematomyelia

diastematomyelia drawing

Diastematomyelia, a complicated name for a split spinal cord.

Day eighteen! Almost three weeks worth of fun spinal knowledge. For those tuning in, we have a neuroanatomy category just for these posts. Since we’ve covered most of the anatomy portion of the spinal cord, we’ve just started covering spinal disorders. If you’re here you’re probably wondering what diastematomyelia is, so let’s get started!


Day #174: Know your spinal cord – The tethered spinal cord

brain and spinal cord

This has been a fun series of posts and today is day seventeen! As usual, you can check out all of our posts under the neuroanatomy category. I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is we’re still going! The bad news is we’ve pretty much covered the anatomy. So for the next few posts, we will look at some issues the spinal cord may have. First up, let’s talk about a tethered spinal cord!


Day #173: Know your spinal cord – The meninges

cross section of spinal cord

Day sixteen of knowing your spinal cord! So many posts, much knowledge! For those who are just finding us, we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts. If you want to take it from the top (literally) you should start with the medullary pyramids post. If you’ve been following along or only interested in this particular topic today we are covering the meninges and you’ll learn my really dumb way for remembering them, so let’s get started.


Day #172: Know your spinal cord – The lumbar cistern and cerebrospinal fluid

Spinal anatomy

We are well on our way to finishing up the know your spinal cord series that I am doing. Today is day fifteen and as usual if you’re just tuning in we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts for you to check out organized in reverse chronological order. If you want to start at the beginning, that would be the medullary pyramids. Today we are at the other end of the cord, this is the lumbar cistern!


Day #171: Know your spinal cord – The cauda equina

spinal cord and brain

Here we are at day fourteen of knowing your spinal cord. By now you’re all experts on the spinal cord and I’m not even sure what I’m doing here. For those just joining us, we have a neuroanatomy category with all the posts so you don’t have to dig for them. If you want to start at the beginning, that would be the medullary pyramids. For the rest of you this is the end, not the end of the posts because we have a lot more to cover, but the end of the spinal cord. Let’s talk the cauda equina!


Day #170: Know your spinal cord – The spinal cord enlargements

Mitochondria in a spinal cord section

Mitochondria in a section of spinal cord

Here we are at day thirteen of knowing your spinal cord! As always, we have a whole special category for these posts called neuroanatomy and if you’re not after a specific topic, I recommend starting at the medullary pyramids. Today’s post is about something important that we haven’t touched on very much, the cervical and lumbar enlargements of the spinal cord, so let’s get started.


Day #169: Know your spinal cord – The central pattern generator

V0008396 Brain and spinal cord: dissection, back view. Coloured line

Day (or really post) twelve on knowing your spinal cord. We have a whole category for the posts, neuroanatomy. Today we are going to talk about the curious case of the central pattern generators (CPG’s). Unfortunately, we cannot talk about them without talking about the experiments that found them, meaning we will be covering animal studies. In particular, some animal studies that might not sit well with some people. I attempted to be general where I can, just know that it is coming.


Day #167: Know your spinal cord – The reflex pathways

Gold leaf spinal cord art by Greg Dunn design
Gold leaf spinal cord art by Greg Dunn design

Beautiful spinal cord art, used with permission by Greg Dunn design.

Day eleven, we’ve almost spent two weeks covering your spinal cord! Tomorrow we will take a brief break as every two weeks I have a review paper due to my PI in the spinal cord feild, so tomorrow I will share it with all of you as well. For today, remember we have a neuroanatomy category with all of the posts we’ve done. If you’re new I would suggest you start with the medullary pyramids post and work forward, for the rest of you or those of you who are only interested in reflexes, let’s talk about some legos.


Day #166: Know your spinal cord – The spinocerebellar tract

Spinal cord section by Ramon y Cajal, a Spanish neuroscientist
Spinal cord section by Ramon y Cajal

Drawing of a spinal cord cross section by Ramon y Cajal, a famous Spanish neuroscientist.

Here we are on day ten of knowing your spinal cord. As always, you can find the aggregated posts in my totally new, fresh off the line category, neuroanatomy. There posts are organized in reverse chronological order, so the first post on the medullary pyramids would be at the bottom, which is where I recommend you start if you’re new. For everyone who’s followed along or those of you who are just interested in this one tract, let’s talk about the spinocerebellar tract!


Day #165: Know your spinal cord – The rubrospinal tract

Art by Ramon y Cajal
Art by Ramon y Cajal

Drawing of a spinal cord slice by Ramon y Cajal, a Spanish neuroscientist and Nobel prize winner

This is day nine of know your spinal cord. Now for my usual bits, we have a whole category that I created just for these posts. They are in chronological order with the newest posts first, so I would recommend you start from the beginning post or dive in where you’re interested. That said, we’re going to tackle one of the smaller, but still important tracts, the rubrospinal tract!


Day #164: Know your spinal cord – The grey matter

vintage spinal neurons

Drawing by Ramon y Cajal, a famous Spanish neuroscientist.

Today is day eight! I can hardly believe it, but here we are, day eight of spinal anatomy. For those of you who are just joining us, we have a whole new category just for these posts and they are in order from newest to oldest, so start at the bottom and work your way up. For those of you who have been following along, today we are tackling the grey matter of the spinal cord, a somewhat complex region where all the action takes place.


Day #163: Know your spinal cord – The spinal nerves

Spinal cord

Here we are, a week into knowing your spinal cord (remember we have a new category for you to find these posts). If you’re just starting out, you may want to look at our new neuroanatomy category and start with the first post. For those of you who have been following along, we covered some of the major tracts of the spinal cord, so let’s dive into the structure some! First up, let’s talk about spinal nerves and what exactly these guys do.


Day #162: Know your spinal cord – The spinothalamic tract

Antique engraving illustration: Spinal cord and brain

Day six already! Today is day six of knowing your spinal cord and we’re talking about the spinothalamic tract today. If you’re interested in the other posts, the first covers the medullary pyramids and I even have a category just for these posts. Of all the tracts of the spinal cord, this is probably my favorite becuase it is just so weird! You’ll see what I mean, so let’s get to it.


Day #161: Know your spinal cord – The medial lemniscus tract

spinal drawing

Here we are day five of knowing your spinal cord. If you’re just joining us, I’ve created a new category where you can find all the posts. Or you can start at the beginning with the medullary pyramids (technically not part of the spine, but close enough). If you’re all caught up or just want to learn about this specific tract, then let’s get started.


Day #160: Know your spinal cord – The corticospinal tract

spinal cord cross section drawing

We’ve made it to day four of knowing your spinal cord. I’ve introduced a new category just for this, which makes these posts easier to find for future reference (yours or mine). For those of you just starting out, you may want to go from the first post on the medullary pyramids. For the rest of you, you’re probably here to learn about the corticospinal tract. This will be fun, so let’s get started.


Day #152: Improving my writing


One of the outcomes of my recent meeting with my PI (my main one), is that I am going to be actively working on my writing. While I do this to improve my writing, this is far more informal than the writing I would be doing for a confrence or journal paper (both of which I’ve written). That isn’t to say that I cannot improve, there’s always room for improvement and I could use a LOT of improvement.


Day #151: Surgery at the VA, a runthrough

VA hospital

Nice and foggy today, look at that nasty roof! Got to love the VA (even though it looks more like a prison, which I guess it sort of is.

Now that I’m somewhat out of my anesthesia sickness (seriously not fun), I figured I would give a rundown on what having surgery through the VA looks like and some of the things you have to do pre-surgery to get ready. Since I’ve never had a surgery outside of the VA, it would be interesting to see how much of this applies to other hospitals, but I suspect that the answer would be not much.


Day #150: Surgery update

Well I’m alive, despite the VA’s best efforts. I’m struggling with some serious nausea to the point of vomiting, which has never happened to me before. I’m also in a lot of pain, but that was expected. In any case, start to finish (start as in the operating room and finish as in getting home so +30 minutes or so to the actual finish time) it took ~9 hours total good times for everyone. Anywho, I feel like death so I’ll write more later.

Day #149: An auspicious start


Well we did an experiment. I wish I could talk more about what we did, how we did, and why we did. Alas, I cannot. So instead, let’s talk about the vague how it went metric as in, maybe we found something maybe we didn’t, also this experiment highlights several quarks between the my school lab and the clinical lab.


Day #148: Experimental design



Today is day one of ten for the time that I have to do some experiments. It’s an awkward time for sure, I mean surgery, school, etc. However, that’s just the way things work in academia, I actually had a break, so I’m ready to go to be honest. Which really means this isn’t horrible timing. I’ve already discussed the million things going on these weeks, but let’s talk about what goes into experiments, really.


Day #147: First day in the lab


A semi good photo of our lab!

Today is the first day in the lab since break. It was nice to have some time off, I got some housework done, got to spend the bulk of my time sick (not my idea of fun), and best of all I got to see some of the city. It’s been good and now that I’m ready to get back to it, the week is looking to be busy.

Day #146: Back to school!


My photo, but not my school, just one I visited.

Tomorrow is the big day, back to school, back to classes. This means that any and all house projects will inevitably come to a screeching halt until spring break (most likely) and it marks the shift in blog posts from life outside the lab to life in the lab. There are a few things I like to do to get ready for classes the day before, so let’s talk school.


Day #143: Meeting with my two PI’s


Some of our exoskeletons from the lab

Today was an interesting set of events. I had my meeting with my two PI’s (which I still think would make a hilarious television show). The meeting went well, I’m very excited, but I’m also getting ready to be very, VERY busy. Let’s breakdown how it went shall we?


Day #142: So you want to record from the brain…

EEG setup

My college helping me set up for the experiment I just did. This is how we add gel to the head, there is a tiny hole by each sensor, we then insert a blunt tip needle (we do NOT puncture the skin!) to add the gel between the sensor and the top of the head to eliminate the air gap caused by the hair. Unfortunately it looks scary, but we need something tiny to get around the sensor (if you look close you can seethe tiny, tiny opening each senor has). The lights on each sensor tell us how good of a connection we have, red means bad, yellow means we’re getting close, and green means good. 

Today’s post was inspired by a conversation I was having yesterday in the comment section (you know who you are and thank you for the questions). I thought I would elaborate on how we record from the brain and why. There are a lot of different ways we can do this, some of them are super invasive and others are non-invasive. In the lab I work in now, we do things non-invasively there are good things about this and bad things about this, so let’s get into it!


Day #141: PI meeting result


Well I’ve had my first meeting with my main PI (vs my Co-PI). It went well, I’m very happy with the result and while I’m not at the end of my PhD (yet), it seemed like we were in agreement with my progress. I still have the meeting with my PI and Co-PI coming up, but let’s go over some of the things that we talked about in this meeting.

Day #140: A meeting with my PI



Tools of the trade, an EEG cap I set up for my experiment

With the term about to start (we get another week, even though some schools are already kicking off), I have a few things that I need to do prior to the start. One of those things was make more work for myself, no really. I made a few emails between my two PI’s (which sounds like a TV show) and arranged for a meeting.


Day #136: A look forward

a look forward

The obligatory photo of a path that goes on into the distance (taken from the hike we went on during the neurotech confrence).

Yesterday we took a look back at the past decade. I’m not a fan of looking back, it’s not how I’ve survived this long, it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with, and even though it wasn’t a bad thing to do, I would rather look forward and talk about the things that will be happening (hopefully) this year. Let’s ring in the new year with the to-do list for this year!


Day #135: A decade in review


With everyone doing a review of what happened in the past decade, I thought it would be good to look back and cover the things I’ve done over the years. Is it a little self serving? Maybe, but then again it is my blog, so why not? Here’s my decade in review.


Day #132: Rat model validation!

stock photography Pet rat closeup

Yesterday I mentioned that I had some rat data to go through. It was an old(er) dataset, about five years-old to be exact, but it was one that was going to help me validate some of my findings. Unfortunately there existed no invasive human datasets to compare my human data to, so I needed to find an animal model, in this case a rat model. Let’s discuss the importance.


Day #129: Everything is breaking!!!

Day 129 - repairs

Well it’s post Christmas day and I have to say my stealth wrapping was a hit. Of course, after the first gift (or even the second gift) people catch on, but overall it was a lot of fun and I even got a few apologies for some of the ill will based on my apparent lack of wrapping abilities. I HIGHLY recommend giving it a shot. So let’s talk about the image above for a minute.


Day #124: On the importance of time off


When I left the military, I threw myself into work. I was offered — and I took — all the overtime I could get. If I stayed busy, I didn’t have to think about anything else and at the time, it is what I wanted. I didn’t want to have to think about anything else. It was an unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle, one I don’t necessarily regret, just one I had to learn from.


Day #123: Well I HAD a meeting


Today I reluctantly had two things to do on my list, this despite being sick. Now, I don’t normally like going out when I’m unwell, I don’t want to get others sick, I don’t want to suffer more, blah blah blah. The usual things you’re supposed to do when you are sick. Well today I was not that lucky, let’s talk about why.


Day #122: Moving forward

prosthetic head

After the events of the past week, I need a break. Not just because of all the excitement that has occured, but because I am sick. Like bad. There is never a good time to be sick per say, but if I had to be sick, this was about as good of timing as I could ask for. Let’s talk about what’s next once I’m feeling better.


Day #121: Qualifying Exam Aftermath

Steele - QE

I don’t normally share photos of myself, but I thought I would share the final slide, I love it so much.

Well if you don’t follow me on twitter, then you don’t know the results of my qualifying exam. Well I’ll tell you, but not yet. First let’s talk about how it went and what the qualifying exam is (I know we’ve covered this already here, but it would be good to do it again).


Day #120: The art of the data request (update)

RFI, Request for Information

Today is the big day, it’s my qualifier day. Since it hasn’t happened yet I cannot tell you how it went, but I feel pretty good about it. However, I still have a lot of other news to share, like my data request update. So let’s get to it.


Day #119: Conference Day 4


The winners of the pitch competition giving a surprise 1-2 minute elevator pitch

Well, I’m finally home. It’s been exhausting, but super exciting. I’ve got so much to share I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s go over how yesterday went first. It was our last day at the confrence and our trainees got to present their company pitches. We named the top three (of ten) teams and they got prizes (surprisingly useful and super nice prizes, a wireless phone charger in fact). We also had some talks, so let’s go through the highlights.


Day #117: Conference Day 2


Today is the first day of the neurotech workshop (day 2 of my confrence schedule since I had 2 conferences back to back) and man did I do something evil. Well… maybe not that evil, but more evil genius. They gave me some creative power and I found a way to make it funny. Let’s take a look at the result, shall we?


Day #116: Conference Day 1

moon view

Shot I took of the moon

Made it in one piece to my destination! Since I’m writing this before today’s events start, let’s talk about yesterday. While the bulk of the time was spent traveling it wouldn’t hurt to muse on a few of the events, especially since today will be a much busier (or at least more event packed) day.


Day #115: Conference time!


Well today is the day, I’m packed and ready for the … festivities? Okay, so maybe not something that is a party, but conferences are a good chance to meet with people and share ideas. While this is a small one for our research group, it’s still a way to let others know what advancements have been made in the field.


Day #114: Classifier Update

NARXNET Classifier-Raw out

Behold! My amazing predictive power!! *insert evil laugh here*

It’s been a long and exhaustive road to get to here. As you may recall, I’ve given several updates already on my progress and I THINK I’ve finally hit success. In fact, I know I have, the problem now? Well what the neural net saw to make the predictions is a mystery to me, so I don’t know why or how it works… yet.


Day #113:Practice makes… better?

Presentation practice

Conference is coming! With my talk right around the corner today is prep day. Basically I’m giving my talk today to the lab in the hopes that when I do it for real, it doesn’t completely suck. So practice, practice, practice!


Day #112: Conference Prep


We are just a few days away from my first of two events back to back. First up is the confrence I keep mentioning. It’s a meeting with collaborators from several schools to discuss work we’ve been doing that the group funded. I have one of those projects, so I will be presenting a powerpoint with an update on the work along with a poster that I’ve made.


Day #111: A prosthetic update


Prosthetic I’ve designed for Lucas, you can see the full view further into the post.

Now that the term is over, you would think I get some time to myself. That is unfortunately not true. There is still quite a bit of work ahead for me before I can take some time over the winter break to relax. One of the more important things that needs to happen is the prosthetic project I’ve been working on for some time.


Day #110: Experiment!

EEG setup

This is an actual photo from my experiment setup, one of my colleagues is adding gel to the sensors. While the giant syringe looks scary, it isn’t. It’s full of conductive gel that gets placed between the head and the sensor. There is no pain or puncturing of the skin involved. Afterwards the gel washes out of the hair. The real pain is sitting for ~30 minutes or so while we gel each electrode enough to get a good reading.

A few days ago I mentioned I did a thing, well an experimental thing really. It was… fun? It was definitely something. Overall it went well, but I said I would give everyone an update and I try to be a man of my word, so let’s do this.


Day #109: Post exam exhaustion

exhausted student.jpg

It’s over. The term has finally come to an end and I’ve taken my final as of yesterday. It’s bittersweet, on one hand I can now (sort of) relax. On the other, it means that there are exactly zero chances for me to improve my grade. I’ve done my best and now I need to hope that it is enough to get me to the finish line.


Day #108: Final today!


Well today is the day, finals! Well the only final I have this term really. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but as you may have noticed from yesterday’s post, I’m a little stressed out… to say the least. So what’s happening today?