Category Archive: My classes

Aug 27 2013

How to read a scientific paper

If you’ve been wondering how the pros do it, here’s a guide to dissecting a science paper. Don’t be intimidated: it’s a description for how to really take every detail of the paper apart, and it’s a rough outline of what I do before talking about a paper on the blog. But it’s also a …

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Aug 25 2013

Just in time for my cancer class

In a few weeks, we’ll be having a discussion of the ethics of cancer research: what is a reasonable intervention in the case of a patient who has no hope of survival? And look at the interesting case that just appeared on my radar: two cancer surgeons who treated brain tumors by deliberately infecting them …

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Aug 19 2013

It was the week before classes, and all through the house…

The faculty were melting down. It’s going to be a busy week — I have syllabi to finalize and multiple meetings to attend and cranky fish to fuss over (Morris has toxic water everywhere, full of minerals, and we’re dependent on the RO system to clean up the crap…and they’re shutting it down and flushing …

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Jul 26 2013

News from the world of fish drudgery


I’ve been away from my office and computer all day doing manual labor. Our little fish facility had a problem: the tanks all drain into these custom built trays (we made them from sheet plastic with PVC angle rods glued and caulked around the edges), which then drain into the reservoir tank. It turns out …

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Jul 15 2013

Embryos at last!


Oh, look: The first embryos from our new and improved fish system! We only got a handful today, but you can see why. Those are about 3½ hours old, so we collected too late and the little babies’ mommies and daddies had spent the previous few hours assiduously poking around in the marbles sheltering the …

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Jul 11 2013


I got up early this morning and rushed over to the lab to suck on tanks — danios lay demersal eggs that sink to the bottom of the tank, and you can just siphon them up — and…nothing but fish poop. I have a sad face. It was probably overly optimistic since we only have …

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Jul 09 2013

You asked, I deliver the fish porn


Since everyone insisted, here’s a photo of our incipient zebrafish system, built by my student Josh. What it is is a set of ordinary plastic shelving with some custom built plastic trays to catch water overflow, and then an array of simple 2-3 liter tanks (the smallest size Kritter Keepers, if you must know — …

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Jul 09 2013

Next phase begins!

We think our fish facility is complete now. We have run it through the fishless cycling process. Now I have to drive 60 miles to get some cheap pet store danios to give it the live test, so I’m going to be offline for a bit. Once those are thriving and we’re totally confident that …

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Jun 21 2013

World conquest…slightly delayed

When we fired up all cylinders on our majestic fish apparatus today, we discovered…leaks. Nothing tremendous, no sprays of water under pressure all over the place, just a couple of slow, steady, trickling drips. We demand perfection since this will be running 24 hours a day for months on end. So joins are being resealed …

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Jun 20 2013

We are go for fishiness

We are now testing the capabilities of our fully armed and operational homebrew fish facility in the lab. Pumps are humming, water is flowing, we are evaluating all joins for leakage, and it’s looking good. Tomorrow we put in a small bank of tanks and start the water cycle. Next week, fish! That is all.

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