Archive for the 'awesomeness' category

hello again - I have good news!

Jun 21 2017 Published by under academia, awesomeness, navel gazing

Hello? How does this work again?

I am writing a post about my experiences grant writing and on study section in response to a twitter convo that I was in last night. But before I posted that, I just wanted to say hi to anyone that might still be around. And maybe update folks on what's been going on.

The good news: I got tenure! I was lucky and I got funding and wrote some papers (still working on getting some of those out...). I was lucky to get to work with some awesome students and colleagues. And I got a lot of support, both from meat space and my friends here in the interwebs. So thank you all. The support and friendship that I've gotten from you all over the years means so much to me. And the folks that are and have been in my lab are fantastic beyond belief. They made the whole process worth it.

I had a rough time, personally, in the years I was going for tenure. I got divorced. I am still realizing and trying to work through how toxic that relationship was. My Ex tried to get custody of Twig. It was painful and sad. It took a lot of time, money, and emotional energy. I got depressed. I struggled with anxiety. I didn't do a great job at work, honestly. I just didn't have enough spoons.

My life is really good now. I'm really getting to know and love myself in a new and more profound way. Twig is growing up so fast, and I'm having the best time watching her grow into her own person. Being a mom is kinda awesome. But it is also hard. It's really difficult to be a single mom, even if I only have to do it every other week. I've learned to ask for help, and accept help when it is offered. I've had to learn to accept that I just can't do all the things (I still kind of struggle with this).

And now I'm back here. This felt good to write. Maybe I'll be able to get into this habit again. I've sort of missed this place. I wonder if Od still has that stash of beer over there?

22 responses so far

appreciation #drugmonkeyday

Sep 23 2016 Published by under awesomeness, colleagues, mentoring, on the job training

As I'm going through the final push through the process of getting tenure, I need to take a minute to say thanks to the folks that have helped me so much over the last 6-ish years.

I've been very lucky to have some really great mentors. I'm not really impressed with formal "mentoring committees", but I have absolutely benefitted from some great people who have helped me along in this journey. People that help me figure out what to do when there are issues managing my lab, or ordering, etc. And there are also those folks that sometimes take me out for a drink and (sometimes) give me a quick kick to the ass. Thank you to everyone!!

I want to take one small moment to shout out to DrugMonkey, who has been so incredibly helpful. If you don't read DM's blog you are missing out. Interacting with DM has helped me so much. I've gotten practical, realistic advice that has helped me learn my way around the NIH funding system. And I've gotten some of the best mentoring out there - advice, encouragement, commiseration.

Thanks, dude.

One response so far

It's time for #DarwinsBalls - Brackets for a good reason

Mar 16 2015 Published by under awesomeness

UPDATE #2: YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! All but one of the original projects I put up have been completed!!! I'm adding a couple more projects, just in case there are any late-comers. Scoring is progressive (you get more points for later rounds) so there is still a chance!!


UPDATE: Three of the projects on the original list have been completed!! YOU GUYS ROCK. As of now, there are 49 folks signed up. But there is still time! I know the games to figure out the last 4 games have already started, but those barely count. The For Realz games don't start until Thursday (I think). There is still time to get in on the fun!! OH - and use this link to sign up (thanks @namaste_ish): If that doesn't work, send me a gmail @ primaryinvestigator or else DM me on twitter @gertyz

Hey all! It's March, and that means College Basketball! Around here, there is a tradition of hosting a bracket competition -- for a good cause, of course. This year, there was an idea to have folks contribute to Smart Girls at the Party - Amy Poehler's community to encourage girls and women to be themselves and change the world. It is pretty awesome, IMO. Sadly, I can't find a link that we could use for donations. It is very confusing. So instead I went over to Donor's Choose and picked some great projects that we could support. If you aren't familiar with Donor's Choose, then I just can't even. JOKING! It is an exceptionally good charity where teachers can ask for money to get stuff they need for teaching.

So here's the deal. If you wanna play, you gotta pay. Go to Donor's Choose and put down your entry fee ($10, students and postdocs can enter for $5). Then go to and fill out a bracket. The group name is Darwin's Balls, the password is MarieCurie. Then let the trash-talking begin!! Also, @Namaste_Ish has arranged for some excellent prizes for the winners. Fun trash talking AND prizes!!

You can donate to any project at Donor's Choose that you want. Or pick one from the list that I put together trying to find "less urban", high poverty projects:

Centered in Learning ~ Mrs. Cabrera's class at Bell Elementary School in Deming, NM. "My students need language arts and mathematics center activities to focus on practicing and strengthening their skills." This is basic stuff: Math flash cards, reading folders, white board markers. Let's get these kids going!!!

NEW! 2nd Annual Science Fair ~ Mrs. Sutton's class at Shady Spring Elementary School in Shady Spring, WV is looking for supplies so they can have a science fair.

NEW! Dissecting for Degrees! ~ Ms. Dugger's class at Woodward Elementary School in Atlanta, GA. Help a class of 5th graders get the opportunity to do frog dissections!

COMPLETED!! Send the FeMale Robotics team to space! ~ Ms. Madanski's class at Robinson Elementary School in Toledo, OH. "We are a group of ten 4th-8th grade inner-city girls who work hard, have fun, and are learning to build and program a robot. You can help us prepare for our first LEGO League competition next year by obtaining a Space Challenge Set to practice in the off season!"

COMPLETED!! Make Math Come Alive ~ Mrs. Mastin's class at Tilles Elementary School in Fort Smith, AR. "This project will provide my students with the opportunity to have a hands on experience with math concepts across the curriculum and make it more applicable to my students. They will be able to visualize and understand the concepts behind math strategies and think critically about those strategies. By using these materials, I will be able to provide instruction to my students that they will never forget."

COMPLETED!! Helping All Students Succeed Mathematically ~ Ms. McClelland's class at Oakland Heights Elementary School in Meridian, MS. "By funding our project, you will make it possible for my female students to improve their attitudes about mathematics by getting some much needed practice. I feel that the girls will build their confidence and esteem as they learning to enjoy math. Please help us succeed at learning."

COMPLETED!! Supplies are Running Out...Help ~ Ms. P.'s supplies project  at Longfellow Elementary School in Pasco,  WA. "This project will make a huge difference in our classroom by providing my students with essential items that they need every day. Without basic items like paper, and dry-erase markers my students will not be able to accomplish their learning targets." Holy crap, this is heartbreaking. They are running out of paper, ffs -gz

COMPLETED!! Multiplying the Love for Math and Science ~ Ms. Thompson's class at McClure Elementary School in Tulsa, OK. "With these materials, my students will conduct experiments, engage in hands-on learning activities, and take part in a more meaningful learning experience. I believe that this will allow them to retain information they learn, long-term and apply the skills they are learning to everyday life."

SPORTSBALL! Do something good, maybe win a prize based on randomly choosing your bracket! It is All. The. Awesome.

Now get on it, folks.

50 responses so far

FUCK CANCER World Cup Pool

Jun 17 2014 Published by under awesomeness

It's back: filling out brackets because Fuck Cancer, courtesy of the ever-chipper Bam D. Woodchipper, @Bam294. You may remember the March Madness challenge that Bam coordinated in memory of her friend Chris Maki. So many of you all stepped up, filled out some brackets, and made a difference for his family. Because you are all AWESOME! But enough flattery.

There's MORE to be done, folks. This year, Chris's wife is participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to benefit Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center. Coincidentally there is also a sporting competition going on! Bam had a super idea - a World Cup pool to raise money for Jill's ride!!

Here's how it works: go to Jill's donation page and give $5 (you can give anonymously). Then go sign up for the pool and pick who you think will win in each of the group games. I know they have already started, but we'll just pick up from here. After group play, go back and fill out the bracket for the knockout round. You get 1 pt for each game you pick during group play, 2 pt for round of 16, 3 pt for round of 8, 4 pt for semifinals, and 5 pt for picking the champion. The winners will get bragging rights (of course) and some amazing home-baked cookies made special for you by the most-awesome Sugar Scientist. Who knows what other delightful rewards might show up?

You can't win if you don't play!


4 responses so far

What happens when you send @McLNeuro an email...

Apr 03 2014 Published by under academia, awesomeness

The other day, a friend of the blog, @McLNeuro got an email from a sales rep. Some might just delete the email and go about their day. Lucky for this rep (and us!), that is not how Dr. McLaughlin chose to proceed...

On Mar 28, 2014, at 7:13 am, Dr. McLaughlin wrote:

Answers below

On Mar 28, 2014, at 5:46 AM, Karen [redacted] wrote:
Dear Dr. McLaughlinYou have one of the greatest lab websites I have ever seen!   Looks like a great place to work

Its not. I’m a monster.

I am reaching out to you in hopes that I could ask you a few questions around your previous purchase of Choline acetyltransferase antibody from [redacted].  Even if you don’t really remember your interaction with us, that’s fine.  I’m looking for any data I can get. I chose to contact you specifically because our records show that you purchased from us one time, but have not purchased since then and I really want to know why.The questions I have are basically:

(1)    How did you find the antibody that you bought from us (if you don’t remember, how do you generally find them)?

I tell people to get things and they do it. So we needed to look at ACh levels so that was the antibody the labbie picked. If its published, they go there first. If not they look at specificity.

(2)    Did everything you ordered arrive on time?

If it doesn’t, I yell at them about why the experiment didn’t happen, so probably

(3)    Did it perform as expected?

The graduate student? No. They are in someone else’s lab now. Also the antibody sucked.

(4)    Was there anything you couldn’t find or you wished was available?

An American public that appreciated that funding biomedical research was in their best interest and valued education as a means of societal advancement. Also, a loyal army of monkeys to do my bidding.

(5)    Why did you stop purchasing from [redacted]?

Did I mention the crappy antibody?

(6)    What would bring you back?

Trials of antibodies. Cookies. Wine. Nice pens. Sometimes the pens don’t even have to be that nice to make people in the lab buy reagents, to be honest.

If you’d write me back to share your comments I would really appreciate it.  I would be happy to send you a $5 Starbucks gift card if you respond.  If you’d prefer to call and talk instead I’ve left my work number and personal cell phone number below.  You can call me or email to set up a time to chat.

I didn’t have time to call, but did jot your cell number in a bathroom stall an told people you’d pay them $5 to call you. You’re welcome.

Thank you in advance for offering your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

I have other thoughts also available for smaller and greater amounts of money.

Best regards


[company information redacted]

2 responses so far

Fuck yeah HOCKEY!!! The #vwxpool update

Feb 22 2013 Published by under awesomeness, Uncategorized

I know there isn't a full season this year (fucking-A, NHL. 🙁 ) Nevertheless, there is hockey, and though I don't have so much time to watch because teaching/life/etc *cough*FML*cough* that doesn't stop me from playing in the super awesome fantasy pool led up by Cath Ennis. Sadly, it does limit my success in said pool. sigh. Nevertheless, I present to you today the much-awaited WEEK FOUR UPDATE!

hockeyI had a super-shitty week, but managed to stay in the middle-ish of the pack. Sugar Scientist is still kicking ass, but hot on her heels are the dynamic duo of Mod Scientist and Lava. OMG the suspense! Bam294 and Genomic Repairman are still fighting it out in the gutter, as you might expect.



4 responses so far

make a difference for kids affected by Sandy

Nov 02 2012 Published by under awesomeness

The last week has been heartbreaking to watch as Hurricane Sandy tore across the northeast. The images are devastating, and it is going to take some time to recover from the aftermath. Like many of you, I have given some money to the Red Cross (you can text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10). I wanted to give blood, but my stupid low iron levels prevented it. grrrr.

But there is MOAR we can do to help. We can help make sure that kids in areas affected by Sandy still have the opportunity to have a great science education. The Science Bloggers Challenge for Donor's Choose has been EXTENDED! So there is still time! And even better, any $ you give will be matched - that's right DOUBLED. Just enter SCIENCE when prompted for the gift/match code. I've picked out some new projects that are specifically aimed to help kids in the Sandy-affected areas. Go to my giving page, and drop a couple of dollars to help them out. Even $1 is awesome, just to show these kids that we care about them now, and also we want to see them win in the future.

Here are the Sandy-area projects I added:
"We need basic supplies :)" in Paterson, NJ (OMG, the smiley face breaks my heart)
"Help my science guppies find Nemo!" in Brooklyn, NY (this is a special needs class)
"Mission Nutrition" in NY, NY (only $20 to go!)
"Learning through games in the testing grades" in Brooklyn, NY (because you shouldn't only have to learn for the test!)

Let's finish out one or all of these, whaddayasay?


2 responses so far

We did it!! YOU GUYS ROCK!

Oct 26 2012 Published by under awesomeness

You. Guys. Kick. Ass. The project that I picked out for National Chemistry week (Balanced Meals and Equations in the Chemistry Lab) is FUNDED! You guys are so awesome that it wasn't enough to finish that, though. We also completed "New Supplies for  a Music Class". YAY!! 🙂 Seriously, we have already reached 451 students. Four. Hundred. Fifty. One. Holy crap. Thank you to everyone that has donated to my giving page. Let's keep the momentum going, waddayasay? There are still a LOT of projects that are open, so if you haven't gotten around to it go over there now. One of my favorites is "Hatching Chickens". It is exactly what it sounds like! How awesome would it be to hatch some chickens? I wish I could have done this when I was a kid. I've also picked a few projects for the more pragmatic among us - classrooms that need basic supplies. Really, it is a travesty that teachers have to try to work without this stuff. So get over there and help some kids. For SCIENCE!!

The Heroes (you know you want to join this list!):
Jeremy Yoder
Janet Stemwedel
Julie M.
Olivia S.
Emily Hauser


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Best PSA ever. I LOVE these 7th graders

Oct 25 2012 Published by under awesomeness

I got a little teary watching this. How. Freaking. Amazing.

source (h/t to Rachel Maddow, who put this up on twitter).

No responses yet

How do you say Vrgynya?

Apr 19 2012 Published by under awesomeness

If you don't watch Rachel Maddow, you should. She is smart and awesome. and funny. This segment is called "Virginia is for Vajayjay" and it is full of win.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


4 responses so far

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