Friday, October 19, 2007

Academic sharing

A while back I posted that we published the first paper in the lab that included my results. That was super exciting. Now we've starting to get e mails from people requesting plasmids (little circles of DNA which encode a particular gene) that we've created that were described in the paper. That is even more exciting because it means that people have actually read the paper, and it inspired them to pursue something related to their research. This is one of my favorite things about academia, the collaborative spirit, the way that people oceans apart can work together. So we're busy sending out these plasmids to England, Canada etc. It sounds rather glamorous sending DNA all over the world, but I'll let you in on a secret. DNA is soluble in water, so what we basically do is take a solution of DNA and put a drop of it on paper. When it arrives they take the paper and put it in water and the DNA dissolves back into the water. Not as glamorous as you thought!

I also have a personal interest in sending these plasmids promptly to their destination. I'm in the middle of a project that needed the DNA of certain genes in plasmids. Now these plasmids exist, but no one I e mailed was willing to send me even one! So since August I've been trying to create them myself. A bit frustrating that I'm working for months because someone couldn't be bothered to send me a little bit of DNA! Not everyone appreciates the potential of academic sharing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perks of being a biologist in Israel

It's Succot in Israel, a Jewish fall festival where we leave our homes and live in huts outside. We have a particularly nice hut built by my husband out of wood on our balcony off our apartment. The holiday lasts eight days and according to Jewish law we cannot work on the first or last day, but ideally we shouldn't work at all. That was never an option when I lived in the US, and often the holiday meant trying to squeeze in the important bits with work/school etc. Living in Israel in my field it is perfectly acceptable to not work for the entire holiday. It's great to actually celebrate and enjoy Succot. Hope you're feeling the chag, wherever you are!

Monday, September 3, 2007


We're all busy. I rarely speak to someone with too much free time on their hands. Often things that are important to us slip. When I was in Penn I used to have at least one chevruta (learning partner to study Jewish texts) a day. Then I made aliya and after a short stint at midrasha it dropped to 2 to 3 hours of learning a week. When I got married it turned into once a week and when I had a baby it dropped to nearly nill. Sigh.

But then came KMTT. It's a podcast with five high level shiurim in English (there is also a hebrew site called Keshet) a week. Every day as I drive to work (and if its been a calm day on the way back too) I listen to a shiur. Now I come to the Shabbat table with something I learned about the parsha. Before every Chag I have a chance to think about it beyond what I'm serving. This half hour of Torah makes me think about being Jewish which is really important to me, despite the fact that life is a mad rush. Once I was even lucky enough to hear a series of shiurim by Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik recorded in the seventies. That was a treat! Another Torah podcast I listen to regularly is Kosher Tidbits by the OU. If you commute, jog or have a lunchbreak in a quiet corner check it out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bread Crumbs

Thought I'd post a simple tip. Since I often make challah almost every week I'm often left with the pieces that don't make it into my husband's sandwiches. I save all the bits in the freezer and when I have time I put them in the oven at 275 F for about a half hour. Then I just whirl them in the processor with a steel blade and I have homemade 100% whole wheat preservative free breadcrumbs. Essential for any home in Israel where shnitzel is consumed regularly.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Last post was about being a biologist, now here's one about being an Ima. Since all of the readers (at least the ones that comment) are moms with much more experience than me I thought I'd throw out a question on the web.

I have a clever, beautiful, determined one and a half year old. Her sleeping habits have patterns of flux and stability. For quite some time she had a bedtime routine and then went into her crib and fell asleep. Sometimes smoothly sometimes with five minutes or under of crying. Then we went on vacation and she slept with someone else for nearly a month. It seems like she got used to it. Recently she started crawling out of her crib instead of crying for five minutes and going to sleep. We decided it was time for a big bed. She has the same bedtime routine and usually falls asleep pretty well. But for the past week or so she's been waking up at 3 AM and since she's in a big bed she climbs out and walks to our room. Then either one of us goes and lies down or sits in her room till she falls asleep which often means that we fall asleep with her or stays awake for close to an hour which is how long it takes for her to fall asleep. Or we give up and she sleeps the remainder of the night in our room. I've had enough! How do you convince a one and a half year old that she has to sleep in her bed!

Any advice would be appreciated!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My First Paper!

Although it might not be apparent yet from any posts I am a graduate student in Biology. Last summer my lab submitted the first paper that included my work. It was accepted with some hefty revisions including two experiments to add. I worked on one experiment alone and the second I worked on with a lab member. We worked on that one experiment from Succot to Pesach. And it didn't work! We finally gave up and sent back the paper. It got rejected with a letter brimming with mussar, why didn't you include the experiment we asked for! After we recovered we sent it to another journal and with some minor revisions it got published right away! Yay! Now I have a paper, and if you search for MY name in Pubmed (a science and medical database) you see it come up! I haven't posted in ages (I was on vacation abroad) but this was a worthwhile reason!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hevel Heveilim 122

My post on working moms in Israel is in the 122nd Hevel Heveilim. HH is a carnival of all things Jewish and Israeli. There is a wide assortment. Check it out, there is something for everyone HH #122.