Since I’m going to be referencing him a lot I should probably introduce my graduate student mentor. His name is Blair Paul and he recently got major cool points in my book for quoting Mission: Impossible when emailing my last ‘mission’. I wish it was Mission: Moderately Difficult, but there you go. Let’s give him some credit, he’s got a good sense of humor and has been very patient with my limited (read: nonexistent) background knowledge on the subject and is always willing to explain what I don’t understand and what he needs me to do. I’m getting quite a crash course of background knowledge because his field is pretty specific, but incorporates many different subjects – marine biology, a little organic chemistry, mostly microbiology, and lots of genetics (note– lots of overlap among those). I’m also getting some exposure to new computer programs, which is a slightly intimidating concept. Computers have never been my strong point. The main problem currently seems to be finding a computer program that can do everything we want it to (which Blair assures me, doesn’t exist). The use of computer algorithms to address questions in biology is generally known as a bioinformatic analysis. According to Blair, in bioinformatics we tend to develop “workflows” or “pipelines” that include a mix of programming code, some freely available tools, and hopefully not too much ‘black-box’ magic to crunch our data (in this case, DNA code).
Once we settle on a process, I will hopefully be able to give a more coherent picture of the kind of research I’m actually doing. Now however, it’s quite late and I have a lovely round of lectures starting at 8:00am tomorrow – one of the few forms of torture that is still condoned in the modern world. Happy researching!
Currently Should be Reading: Organic Chemistry – Paula Bruice
Currently Shouldn’t be Reading: Last Chance to See – Doulgas Adams
Currently on Pandora: Lover’s Wreck – Gaelic Storm
“This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds… (just kidding 🙂 )” – Blair