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Aug 22 2009

School’s no longer out for summer

School starts Monday here at Purdue, so I’ve been trying to get organized. I’m still mildly terrified that this is my senior year. The last three years have gone by so ridiculously fast, and the idea that by December I will be done applying to grad schools is scary…especially since I’m still not sold on any particular places (If anyone knows great scientists studying the genetics and evolution of humans, let me know). Anyway, let’s focus on the present. Here’s what I have in store this semester:

BIOL 500 – Protein Expression (2 credit)
This class has two four hour labs that meet twice a week for six weeks (first third of the semester) and a one hour lab prep on Mondays. I believe all biology majors who needs lab modules have to take this specific one first. Proteins aren’t really my thing, but maybe doing something other than genetics will be novel.

BIOL 542 – Animal Cell Culture (1 credit)
This is another lab with the same format that meets that last six weeks of the semester. Unlike the previous one, you get to choose your other lab modules, and this has a lot to do with gene transfer and making mutant lines, so it sounded pretty neat. Oh, and since I got the lab for DNA Sequencing waived (since I’ve kind of been doing that for the last two years in the lab I work in), I don’t have a lab module the middle six weeks! Hooray!

BIOL 597 – Sex & Evolution (3 credit)
I have been waiting to take this class since I arrived at Purdue four years ago. It’s offered every other year to upper-class men, so that’s why I’ve had to wait so long. Evolution of sexual reproduction? Sexual selection? Mating systems? Human sexual behavior? This is going to be the best class ever. Not to mention it’s with a professor I absolutely love. I also accidentally signed up for the Grad student Recitation, but he told me to stay in there because I would like it better. Yay!

BIOL 441 – Biology Senior Seminar in Genetics (1 credit)
So, I honestly have no idea what’s going on with this class. It has a conflict with Sex & Evolution, and the prof (who I also like) said we could work something out to make up for missing the seminars. What I’ll be doing, I have no idea. I’m talking to him on Tuesday.

PHYS 221 – General Physics, Electricity & Magnetism (4 credit)
I apologize to all the Physics people out there, but – ewwww, physics. Sorry, but I’m really not a fan. Physics was okay in high school – I got A’s, but I found all the math parts insanely boring – but god is it bad at Purdue. It’s one of those huge classes with thousands of students where they don’t really care if you understand anything because they’re just going to curve it 30% at the end so the required amount of people pass. It’s ridiculous. It’s horribly boring and tedious the way they present it. I want to make it clear that I think theoretical stuff ala Elegant Universe is absolutely fascinating, but doing busy-work math problems is not interesting at all. Sigh.

BIOL 498 – Biology Teaching (3 credit)
Like I’ve mentioned way too many times (excited!!) I’ll be teaching a lab class this fall, Cell Structure & Function. Like all intro biology courses at Purdue, the name really doesn’t correlate to what you actually do in lab. It’s a hodge podge of proteins, genetics, evolution, anatomy, and random science skills. Oh, and lots and lots of gel electrophoresis. Lots. My first class is Tuesday, andI have to look over all the information I received about teaching the first lab. Oh, and ironically, my Grad student TAing partner (the two of us teach it together) is also a member of Non-Theists and works in our club advisor’s lab. Small world! Well, maybe not so much in the Biology department.

That’s only 14 credits, which is amazing. I’m usually at 16 to 18, and some of the credits this semester aren’t even taking place all at once, so I hopefully won’t go totally insane like usual. Of course, I’ll have other stuff to keep me busy:

1. Society of Non-Theists, woo! We’re having a ton of events this year, but those are always fun to organize.

2. Research. Trying to finish up two projects and have them submitted to journals before I apply to grad school. Will start working on my Senior Thesis and basically whatever else I can cram in before I graduate.

3. A fun development that I think is awesome – I was suggested by both of the Biology counselors (yay) to a Professor who’s creating a new class. It’s going to be a lab class for honors biology freshmen that gives them real hands on experience with research and teaches them how to think like scientists, rather just go through cookbook experiments to learn the required skills. This semester I’m getting paid to help develop the curriculum, and next semester I’ll be TAing the class! I am super excited about this. I want to be a professor someday, so this is perfect for me. The freshmen labs also need a lot of improvement, so hopefully I can help to make them a better experience.

Still, the fact that this is an easy semester for me should really illustrate what an overachiever (aka, how crazy) I am. Don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging away. I consider it a break from the insanity. Oh, and I’ll be hanging out with friends and stuff…right. Have to remember to actually have a social life. I bought season football tickets mainly so I go out and do something every couple of weeks – I could care less if Purdue wins or loses. Yeah. …I think this post pretty much illustrates why I’m probably not going to have a boyfriend for a while.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Andre Vienne

    Or if you get one, he'll be the sort of maddened busybody that you are.

    Just conceiving of that much stuff to do drives me bonkers.

  2. 2
    Veritas

    It really sucks that you have to go see football as a break. I couldn't be paid to do that.

  3. 3
    Jen

    …But…I like going to the football games…

  4. 4
    DjK

    Holy cow. Your brains scare me, and make me a little bit jealous. Good luck — it's always awesome to see others do something I couldn't in a million years.

  5. 5
    櫻블로그

    Wow that's only 14 units! I'm only taking 4 classes and I already have over 20 units at my school. Not to mention that all your class is scary-hard biology.

  6. 6
    Veritas

    @Jen: I suppose it's bred into you guys that football is fun. I'd rather a hockey game.

    …imagine that.

    (of course, my alma mater's football team would lose to most Virginian high school teams 45-3)

  7. 7
    Jen

    Ewwwww, hockey! …*waits for her Michigan-native roommate to come and smack her*

  8. 8
    Veritas

    Honestly, if you don't like hockey, you've never been there with a bunch of drunk-as-fuck Canadians.

    PPS Hurricanes suck. Not the team. The weather event.

  9. 9
    teachingsapiens

    Please blog on #3 as the semester goes on. I'm always looking for new ways to do exactly what that class aims to do.Rob

  10. 10
    Andre Vienne

    Veritas, I like hockey, and I've only been around with a bunch of drunk-as-fuck Texans. Hockey is awesome as hell. Especially small-potatoes hockey, like they have down here, where it's Fights on Ice, pretty much.

    I like football too, but basketball is my sport of choice to watch.

  11. 11
    Veritas

    Andre, up here, the fighting is at the 12 year old games among the parents. It's so vicious, it's hilarious. They actually had to run TV ads telling parents to chill the fuck out.

    To be fair, there was a tourney up here and an adult team from Tennessee came up. Their team name was "The Only Guys In Tennessee Who Can Skate Drunk". They had never drank Canadian beer before.

  12. 12
    JD

    Sex and Evolution – bet Ray Comfort would get a kick out of that.

    He seriously tries to show that the female of the species disproves evolution. Maybe this class would clear that up for him.

  13. 13
    Mobyseven

    Poorly taught physics – scratch that, ANY scientific discipline – is horrible. It took me a year off and a year of undergraduate law to realise that what I actually wanted to study was science (in particular, maths and physics). All because high school made me think I'd never, ever want to touch science again.

    There's a lot of fascinating stuff in physics even before you get to the stuff Brian Greene likes to talk about. Even the mathematics…especially the mathematics, when it is well taught can reveal an underlying beauty and structure that is not entirely apparent on the surface.

    That's not to say that everyone should be a physicist (just as not everyone should be a mathematician, or a musician, or a writer) – but try not to let poor teaching and administration dull the excitement inherent in even the simplest discoveries. When you start to lose your shit and can't see the excitement in electromagnetism, remember this one fact:

    Everything we associate with the modern world, everything we take for granted – from air travel to the internet, to television to the fundamental glue of chemistry – all of it relies of four simple equations: Maxwell's equations.

    If you ever find yourself losing motivation, watch this man – you could do worse as a tutor:

  14. 14
    Veritas

    Moby: I feel the same about history. Not every person is born to study history, but I wonder how many people out there were denied the chance to do so by terrible teachers. I wonder how many students and how many workers would have loved it, but had the old, boring, wheezy white man teaching dates in a droning voice in high school.

    This stereotype actually really *really* bothered me when I encountered it in the Harry Potter series. It's the only part of it I actually hate, the parts with the ghost-professor Binns, because it reinforces the idea that history is boring. Unless you're a Hermione. I can tell you, I'm no Hermione, and for me, there's nothing more exciting than a little history.

    So, I think the lesson here is bad teachers suck. Period.

  15. 15
    Andre Vienne

    Ah. For parent fighting here, -any- little league game other than baseball is good, but especially soccer.

    I haven't had Canadian beer either, but yeah, considering that they were probably avid Bud Light fans, they probably tried to drink better, stronger beers as fast as they do their own swill.

  16. 16
    Ken MacLeod

    A class being offered every other year to upper-class men sounds from this side of the pond like it's maybe too dangerous for women and workers.

    But seriously, best wishes for the year.

  17. 17
    Joel Klinepeter

    How's the first day going? I know I'm kinda glad to be back in school, the summer was great especially the SSA conference but there's something about wandering the halls of academia gleaning the knowledge and wisdom it can offer…

    I'm jealous of your upper class courses… I'm what, 5-6 years older than you and still technically a sophomore lol. You'll have to keep us posted on the topics discussed in Sex and Evolution, I've always been a little curious about why we do some of the things we do… I find it especially intriguing that sexual selection managed to culturally reverse for a while in humans, it seems to be swinging back some currently though. If you haven't seen it yet check out the TED talk by Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm. It's highly amusing and intriguing.

    @ Veritas: I've found that the best history classes are taught more as a story than a recitation of dates…

    Well back to my coffee and 'The Caged Virgin' while I wait for my comp sci lab…

    p.s. Your write-ups of the cretin museum earned you a place among my homepages ;)

  18. 18
    Veritas

    @Joel: I agree with you. Science can be taught the same way – it's how you determine the story. That's what it's about. An excited and in-to-it science teacher really draws you in. That's why I really loved Grade 11 Physics but Grade 12 Physics was brutal.

  19. 19
    Jesse

    Jen, you're making me feel slightly lazy.

    By the way, what's your research?

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