Big Accomplishment Friday – June 5, 2015

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Last Friday, @SKZingales and I had a little Twitter chat about work-life balance, and whether or not that’s something that young faculty members can achieve.  This was not a good work/life balance week for me.  I did accomplish a lot of things though – and that’s what we talk about on Fridays – right?

If you follow me on Twitter (@theSTEMinista), you may have some guesses about what my big accomplishments were this week – but I’ve saved the most exciting news to share with all of you here.

The highlight of my week was not getting a review paper accepted – although I’m pretty pleased to bring some Raman spectroscopy love to the farmers, and farm love to the Raman spectroscopists.

The highlight of my week was not a paper revision being resubmitted – although that was cool too.  Some other researchers at my institution did some really cool work on a biomedical project a little outside my area of expertise.  Their reviewers asked them to throw in some work on characterization on the material they developed, so I got to hop in on the project and help them out with some molecular characterization (which is my area of expertise!).  New collaboration, really cool project, and there are lots of opportunities to work together with this group again in the future – exciting!!

The highlight of my week was not submitting an R01 proposal – that was pretty much the low-light, LOL!  For those of you not in research fields, R01’s are big government grant proposals, that are due February 5, June 5, and October 5 every year (at least in my areas of study).  Putting them together can be tricky.  The proposal itself is only 12 written pages, but then you need a whole volume of accompanying paperwork to go with it.  If you do a proposal with multiple leaders, across multiple institutions, things get really crazy.  It can be frustrating to wait for everyone on the team to do their part to finish the proposal.  I am glad that it is done, but this is the main area where I lost on work/life balance this week.

Are you still wondering about my exciting news?  All those things got accomplished this week – what else could there possibly be to celebrate?

Well, my friends

I’ve been keeping it to myself until everything was official And now it’s pretty much official So, the big news is:


What’s in Budapest, you ask?

The 14th International Conference on Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation, and Related Diseases.  Depending on what you do, or want to do, that may or may not sound amazing.  To me, it sounds amazing.  Lipid research has really taken off in the past 20-30 years.

When I was a kid, we were taught the lipids and fat were the body’s energy store, and that was pretty much the end of the story.  Now we now that adipose tissue is really an endocrine organ, and there is a lot of really important signaling going on within your fat, and with lipids found in your other cells as well.

You can sequence all the lipids in your body just like you can sequence all the genes in your body – it’s really cool!  They respond really quickly to various stimuli, so they’re often the fastest way to identify a physiologic change.

Not coming from a chemistry and biology background, a lot of the science and characterization methods are new to me, so I still have a lot of learning to do.  I love learning about the types of problems lipids researchers are studying, and developing ideas for how the technologies I work on can be translated to solving their problems.

And, did I mention the obvious?


I am really excited for the opportunity to travel to a new place, and see some of Europe!  The conference hotel is right in the heart of the city, and we’ll get great views of the Danube.  The Gala Dinner for the conference takes place on a river cruise – if you haven’t already noticed, I love love LOVE the water, and can’t wait to spend the evening at a fancy dinner, on a boat with brilliant scientists and beautiful views!

If you’re in the lipids field, you should definitely check out the conference.

Hopefully while I’m there, I’ll have the opportunity to share part of the experience with you, through pictures, and updates about all the cool science.

So that’s my week, in a nutshell!  What were your accomplishments this week?


PS –Mr.SciGuy also celebrated a birthday this week!  If you get the opportunity, wish him a happy birthday.

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