On the struggle bus and hoping for a short trip

Sometimes we have a good month in the lab and sometimes we struggle. January had some great moments, but also involved more struggles than we’d prefer. We have had several pieces of equipment break down this month; one might suspect that there were timers to cause problems after all of the 1-year warranties had expired! But our cold room is repaired, a heating block has been replaced, a freezer is being replaced, and our hybridization oven is being repaired (soon, I hope).

And we have had a couple of lab members struggle with some molecular biology at the beginning of the semester. I think we have gotten through most of the trouble-shooting so fingers crossed for some research progress soon!

I try to be open with students about the struggle that is inherent in doing science and discovering new things. I try to emphasize that struggle and even the F-word (failure) are inevitable aspects of life, especially when one chooses a challenging profession. We try to focus in times like this on a growth mindset. I always hope that my students—as they overcome struggles (hopefully with enough support)—will develop resilience and self-confidence that they can make it through current and future challenges. I know that they are building skills, even in the frustrating parts of research, that will serve them well in their future endeavors, whether in research, medical professions, the classroom, etc.

So we’ve powered through a struggle month and are hoping for a fantastic February.

Happy New Year!

We’re excited to get off to a good start in 2019 in the R-G lab. We welcomed Tulip and Garrett as new members of the lab and the undergrads should be back with us starting tomorrow.

Since Tulip and Garrett had rotation projects that don’t necessarily become thesis projects, we used today for a vision-sharing meeting and project pitch. I talked about the ideas that I have for projects and my priorities for these projects, as well as preliminary data and where each project would likely go in the next few months. I am hoping that this meeting will make my vision clearer for the group and will also give the new students some sense of context and ownership as they launch their own projects.

This meeting helped me to clearly lay out my plans/vision (which wasn’t too tough with the grant writing I have been staying busy doing), so hopefully this is something we can do on a yearly (or so) basis. I hope it was fun for the rest of the lab, too!

Pitch mtg.jpeg

End of the year 2018...

Whew! We just finished up the last rotation of 2018, with Jeremy Burton and Garrett Medley joining us to learn about planarians and try their hands at some molecular biology, RNAi, and in situ hybridizations. They did a great job, getting some interesting results and giving nice presentations of their work. We had a truly excellent crop of scientists/rotation students come through the lab this fall. It was an honor and privilege to work with them and they each brought unique strengths and energy to our group.

We then moved into decision season, with Garrett Medley and Bidushi (Tulip) Chandra opting to join our group starting in January 2019. We are so excited to have them join us and can’t wait to get started on some new and exciting projects!

We also finished up the undergrads’ first semester of truly independent research. They sometimes struggled with the bumps in the road that science can sometimes involve, but each student managed to complete some experiments and most had some data to show for it by the end of the term. They each wrote a mini-paper on their work and presented both a research article and their original research over the course of the semester. Lots of time and hard work! Several will be joining us again this Spring and a few new students will be joining us in Summer and Fall of 2019.

Our “senior” graduate student, Jennifer, submitted her NSF GRF proposal this fall and has made a great amount of progress on her project this semester. She is excited to have some graduate student peers in the lab come January.

And Britessia, our technician and my right-hand person, has continued to work on her screen as she has also managed to write a microscope manual, keep the lab stocked and organized, and help me put out fires (figurative, not literal - so far!).

At the end of the year, it’s a great time for me to reflect back on the progress we have made and re-center myself for a year ahead that will be full of new science and adventure. I’m so grateful to each lab member for his/her unique contribution(s) to the group. And I’m hugely grateful to my colleagues at UGA and around the world who have supported me (and us) this year. Thanks, all!

Wishing everything a wonderful 2019!

NSURE information

We are excited to participate in a new neuroscience program for undergraduate researchers, to be held at UGA starting in Summer 2019. The program will enable students to work in Neuroscience labs at UGA and will also provide professional development activities, social events, a research symposium, and more! This program is open to UGA undergraduate students, as well as students from other institutions.

Interested undergraduate students can find more information at the NSURE website. You can also find more about our Neuroscience program here.

Feel free to contact RRG for more information.


Whew! We had a great month in October… some highlights:

1) Grant submissions by Jennifer (NSF GRF) and Rachel (MIRA & several others).

2) Good work in the lab done by rotation students Tulip and Kathy.

3) Britessia tackled some new things in the lab, making T3 and T7 polymerase successfully and purifying yeast RNA for us to use in our ISH experiments. This also meant I got to pour some protein gels for the first time since arriving at UGA; still using the same recipe I learned in the Gould lab 15 years ago!

4) Undergrads are starting to get some interesting results with their projects and several have really adjusted well to the independence gained in the 2nd semester in the lab. Our undergrads are also starting to present journal articles to the lab, which has been challenging but fun (for me and hopefully for them, too).

5) Had a great chat with GVSU students (in Dr. Dawn Hart’s class and Dr. Matt Christians’s class) who are doing a first-year CURE using planarians. They are using RNAi to target a subset of genes we’re interested in and have developed their hypotheses. Very excited to see their results!

6) Had some fantastic guests to UGA for the Developmental Biology Symposium (Dr. Claude Desplan, Dr. Vivian Irish, and Dr. John Wallingford). I also hosted Dr. Ken Poss for the CBIO seminar series. I also got to hear my colleague Dr. Nadja Zeltner present her work (she is also new faculty at UGA), which was very fun. I really feel like we got spoiled by all of the exciting science we got to hear about this month!

We’re excited to welcome two new rotation students on Monday: Garrett and Jeremy. Hope that November is just as productive and fun as October!