Status Update

Hey! Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted. I usually blank when it comes to posting on my blog because the things that happen at work (aka in lab) can be hard to explain without some sort of background knowledge on my research and/or the personality of my colleagues. For instance, my colleague has been calling everyone, “dude” this past week. Then for some reason, he switched over to calling one particular person, “dude vs. dude”. Why you may ask? Frankly, I don’t know.

This is the same colleague that out of boredom gave his banana a tattoo. Observe:

It says, “Monkey Food. Monkey Food delicious”

I’m a PhD student. I do “science”.  And that’s basically it.

As a result, I finished writing my second manuscript and my first one is in the galley phase. For those of you who don’t know, the galley phase is the final proof before publication where they send you the copy before it’s released and  you approve  things like, “the surnames spelt correctly, the figures look good, the captions are correct”. I’m sooooo excited to type my name in PubMed and see my article pop open and be like, “you wanna know what I’ve been working on for the past two years?! This!”

And when I’m outside of school, I’m usually doing chores and cooking. Chores aren’t anything worth mentioning. And my cooking style is “cook seven portions of the same thing so I don’t have to cook during the week”. I realize that’s not how most people live their lives; I’m just lazy when I get home from work. lol. But I don’t mind cooking, if I wasn’t a scientist I think I would have been a chef.

I saw the Goo Goo Dolls for the 5th time and oh my goodness this time was awesome for three reasons: 1) it was their first night of their summer tour so they weren’t tired or bored 2) The seats I got were the closest seats I’ve ever gotten seeing them and 3) The two women in front of me were actually shorter than me so I could see! I had a ton of fun and it was a welcomed break from working.

In high school, I had a HUGE crush on him. Still kinda do. 🙂

In other news, I imagine having a kid is like mentoring an undergraduate: in the beginning, you have to be with them all the time and eventually they’ll become independent.

I’m still waiting for mine to spread their tiny wings and fly. I attempted the bald eagle approach by telling him to do something by the end of the day without any hand-holding…aaaaaaand yeah, it was a mess. Two more weeks though, then it’s “byiiiiiiieeeee”.

Finally, I’ve been playing Pokemon Go since the day it was released and this Saturday I finally walked a total of 10km. lol. That’s not very impressive at all.

Honestly, I just want to play more Pokemon Go, Sims, and play with makeup…but I’m in lab. -_-


Cooking Competition Bonanza!

For the fourth of July, I did what most Americans do at a normal frequency: I sat on the couch and watched TV for a few hours. Come on, don’t blame me for being lazy. It was my first day off in a loooooong time and fireworks are illegal in Spokane County (like in Boulder).

Personally, I like cooking competitions. I think it’s because people are put under pressure and yet they’re innovative and someone always prevails.

I also like non competition cooking shows like kitchen nightmares. I like 1) watching Gordon Ramsay rip someone a new one and 2) making something better.

Now over the last few years, I’ve watched a ton of shows. I’m not limited to just Food Network, I watch shows on Fox and Netflix too.

Anyways, yesterday something crazy happened…

While I was watching Cutthroat Kitchen (my latest cooking show obsession), a couple of the contestants seemed oddly familiar. Like I’ve seen their faces and heard their voices before.

Then I realized I have seen those people before, but in different shows!

This chick:

Cutthroat kitchen intro thingy

Was also a contestant in the most recent season of Hell’s Kitchen (season 15).


She did pretty well in Hell’s kitchen. She made it to the top 4 and didn’t get a spot in the finale.

And this chick:

another intro thingy

Was also on Kitchen Nightmares

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Don’t be fooled by her welcoming smile and display of food.

When she appeared on Kitchen Nightmares, her and her ex husband’s Cuban restaurant was failing apart until Gordon Ramsay came in a saved it. I’m pretty sure it’s still open right now.

I want to point out these people have now appeared on two different channels. Cutthroat Kitchen is on Food Network and Ramasy’s shows are on Fox.

When I made this connection I realized I watch a TON of cooking shows. I should probably stop.

Well, I’ll stop eventually. For now, I’m going to watch some more Cutthroat Kitchen. ^_^


Burnt Eggs

After this Friday, I will have worked 19 days in a row ( with emphasis on the “the in a row”).  Why? Well, Monday-Friday is the regular work week. However I’m also part of an 6-week animal study which requires administering supplements every day. The past two weekends were my work shifts.

Besides working more than two weeks straight, within the work week I’ve put in a solid 50 hours of work (yup, basically five 10-hour days and then some on the weekends).

At this point I’m…well…burnt out. 😛

Granted at any other job 1) I would have been eligible for some serious overtime or 2) I would gotten the next two weeks off. But because I’m a PhD student, I’m not eligible for those benefits. In fact, it’s pretty much expected I put this amount of effort in. Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad except for how I’ve noticed how I’ve been affected by it.

How two weeks of work effects me:

1. No amount of caffeine would help the exhaustion.

2. I’m a bit more irritable especially in the evening.

3. I’ve ignored taking care of myself.

Out of these three, the last one is the more disturbing one to me because it is not just a physical thing but a mental one too. This past week, my mind has felt frazzled.

So this week I learned of the the importance of meditation.

I’m not talking about sitting down in one spot and repeating a mantra until zen is reached. In fact, when I meditate I’m still working and hustling about.

Rather I meditate on the good things.

I think about all the past victories I’ve had and remind myself of how blessed I am. I remind myself of my growth as a person and how much better I am now because of it.

I’ve found this mindset refreshes me mentally. I feel more energized and ready to take on what’s ahead. Although I’m exhausted, I know I’m going to get through this season and I’ll be better off because of it.

Physically, I’ve noticed I haven’t been eating too well (which may contribute to my lethargy) and I’ve skipped out on pore strips and face masks for like a month.

Not to mention I haven’t cut my hair in the past six months.

Granted the hair cut can wait a little for “back to school” to cut off the summer damage.But after doing some beauty stuff today, I’m feeling much better about myself.

Now to have some good food: red beans and rice and tiramisu! ^_^





Chick to Chicken

Oh hay!

Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post.

But really, if you ask, “what have you been up to?” All I would say is, work.

Over the past two years, I have observed and done a couple animal studies in lab. I learned they’re extremely time consuming and can be stressful.

This summer, I’ve been put on a 6 week dietary animal study. To give you a brief run down, we’re feeding apples to rats every. single. day. It’s been time consuming to say the least. I’m hoping by the end of the study it’ll take less than an hour to feed instead of the 1.5 hours spent everyday making and giving supplements.

In between working, I survived a massive heat wave in that temperatures were definitely 100F and in doing so learned that the living room window is facing west.

I also learned that my router wasn’t built to handle two computers, a smart TV, and a cell phone on the internet speed I was paying for (which is pretty fast). In doing so, I broke my router but not my modem so I replaced it (with a better one) this week.

Finally, after five failed attempts at finding the Rocks of Sharon at Iller Creek, I finally found them this weekend! I realized I’ve been turning left this whole time when I should have been taking a right. ^_^

As a result, I found the rock which they call “big rock” (descriptive, I know) and had a small snack overlooking the famous paloose.

Yes, you have seen the Paloose. In fact, this background photo was taken in the Paloose. 

Well, here is my picture of overlooking the Paloose from Big Rock:

Oooh pretty. ^_^

That’s it for now. Peace out!


The Chicken and the Egg

Judging by Facebook, we are currently in the season in between spring and summer: graduation season.

First of all, congrats to all you recent grads with your BA’s and some with your MA’s now. Has it really been two years since I graduated?! Time has flown by.

Two years ago, I wrote my senior thesis and gradated with honors. Two years ago I had a mentor who taught me how to think, ask questions, and learn what I could about the world.

Present day: Now it is my turn to return the favor.

At WSU, there is a program for undergraduates to do research in the summer. Every year I’ve been here, there has always been a handful of them.

Last summer I helped out but didn’t mentor. This year, I’ve been given the task of mentoring a student.

You see, I have a small project that I’ve been putting off due to not having time. I figure this summer I would get around to it…eventually. It’s not a hard project by any means. Just time consuming. After overhearing my boss ask the associates in the lab if they had any ideas, I decided to speak up like Spongebob did.

I have an idea!

And alas, my boss was pleased with the idea and the rest is history.

I am excited to have a minion. Sometimes there are not enough hours in a day to do everything. Having the extra help would be awesome. Not to mention putting this on my CV and perhaps getting a paper coming out of this work would be awesome.

The truth of the matter–papers papers papers.

At the same time I’m kinda nervous honestly. What if they’re lazy or they’re one of those kids who are doing this simply because they need research “experience” to get into med school?

But they could also be genuinely interested in research and hard working and willing to learn.

I hate to put them on the spot, but before even beginning I want to ask them, “what do you want out of this experience?” I think it would really help me gauge the effort I will put into it because the last thing I want to do is waste my time and breath explaining. At the same time, I was given such an amazing opportunity as an undergrad which got me where I am now. Nevertheless, I will put my best foot forward and hopefully instill a love of science and researching.

hehehehe…I hope he’s ready though for the craziness that is our lab. ^_^

Lesson one: your lab mates become your second family. With that being said, sometimes you hate each other. However, when it comes down to it they’ll be there to help you.

Talk to you later!



Baked Egg

Did you know:

  1. The average high temperature in Spokane is 66F.
  2. During the summer months (June-August) the average high is 83F.
  3. Around 70% of households in the northwest do not have air conditioning.

Last week was the first full week of May and I saw a more than a few days of 80F weather. I am one of those households without A/C and it’s sucks. Being in my apartment feels like being inside an oven.

I realize I’ve survived much worse being a Colorado native. The average high in July is 90F. Having life guarded at an outdoor pool, I worked outside in the heat of day. But let me tell ya, I have adapted to living in the northwest for two years to which 80F has me like:

Omg…it’s hot

The only thought that comes to mind is, “If it’s this hot now, what will it be like in the next few months?!”

How much above average are we talking?!?

Nevertheless, if you are suffering from the heat (like me), here are some tips that I have found useful in beating the heat:

  1. Drink plenty of water which has been pre-chilled in a pitcher in the fridge.
  2. Have ice cream and popsicles on hand.
  3. Lay off the hot beverages.
  4. Go to bed with damp hair.
  5. Pull all the blinds and close all the windows during the day (and don’t open them until it cools down outside).
  6. Have the box fan facing out of the window at night.
  7. Put a personal fan in between the bed sheets to blow air onto feet.

That’s all folks, stay cool out there!





The Happy Egg

Three experiments, four practice talks, and 5-6 consecutive hours of sleep later…

…I’m a PhD candidate now.

These people celebrated my proposal being finished and now they’re celebrating that I passed!

Oh my goodness. Quite frankly, it feels surreal still.

My exam began with a 50 minute public presentation on my grant proposal. When I opened up the floor for questions, an eccentric professor “grilled” me with pharmacology questions. I say “grilled” because he’s really nice. Some of his questions I missed and some which I got right. Afterwards he shook my hand and said, “Oh. Your hand is clammy. That’s good! Good level of nerves.” Then he let go, shook my hand again, and said, “Yup. Still clammy. Good luck!” ^_^

I was dismissed for a few minutes then I was invited back into the room to begin my oral exam with my committee.

After an hour of experimental set-up questions and some rheumatoid arthritis questions, I was dismissed once more. And once I came back in, one of my committee members smiled and went, “congratulations.”

The excitement and joy was overwhelming. However, I didn’t sleep well the night before and I worked roughly 50 hours prior to my exam. Within a few minutes after passing, I felt like passing out. I had a soda afterwards and had was surviving on a little sugar buzz.

I left work an hour later. Then I proceeded to do my laundry, and watch an entire season of Great Food Truck Race on Netflix with half a bottle of wine.

I freaking love food competition shows.

I slept like a rock that night.

The rest of the week was loooooooooong. No experiments planned those days and all I needed to do was paperwork and try to get my head back into “green tea” mode so I can finish my manuscript by the end of the month.

Nevertheless, the weather this weekend looks fabulous, and I haven’t been “outside” for a couple of weeks now.

A hike is definitely in order for Sabrina, PhD candidate. ^_^

Century Egg

Century egg = an egg that has been preserved by a combination of salt, clay, ash, and rice hulls for several months. The result: an egg with a potent taste and smell. Considered a delicacy in  China.

I may not be as old as a century egg, but this week I got one step closer to being a quarter of a century old. (That’s 24 years old).

My birthday was pretty uneventful in that I went to work that day. Two days prior, I made my birthday cake. And yes, I made my birthday cake because I love to bake and it’s an excuse to make a cake and bring it to work.

Last year I went with chocolate, but this year I wasn’t feeling it. Strawberries were on sale, so I make a strawberry cake. Basically, its a dense white cake with a strawberry cream frosting.

Happy Birthday to me!

Let me tell ya, it was a hit! Next time I make this cake, I want the cake itself to be lighter. So no cake flour and perhaps I’ll add some baking powder/baking soda to it.

To “spoil” myself, I bought a orthopedic seat cushion for my office chair. Woohoo! Adult gift! lol. But really, I sit around a lot and I gotta protect my spine…so that I’ll be healthy when I’m a century old.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! 🙂

ttyl! -Sabrina


What is this “calm” hullabaloo?

This week I learned a valuable lesson in keeping calm…

Monday: Nothing spectacular.

Tuesday: Things are a little rocky.


Thursday: Settling back down.

Friday: AHHHHH!!!!…ouch. Collapse.

To elaborate on the week, Monday began with a morning commute which was three times as long as it is normally. I believe this is because the on-ramp to I-90 is closed due to construction on another major street nearby my apartment. Therefore, people who usually take the highway to get to places (like myself) are forced to take 3rd street. And so for the first time in me being here, I sat in morning commuter traffic. However, I’m not going to complain about it because it usually takes me 5 minutes to get to school and now it takes me 15 (which is still pretty short). No big deal. All is well.

What the deuce?! Traffic?!

Tuesday was when things got a little rocky. The realization that I have some paperwork that needed to be signed by my absent boss to take my oral exam began to stress me out a little. Not to mention he, uh…well, he hadn’t even seen my proposal yet and I’d had gone through four revisions since then so…moving right along…

Hey, the first four revisions weren’t even looking at. heh-heh

Oh goodness, Wednesday. First of all, I couldn’t legally ship 50% of my dad’s birthday present, so I feel pretty awful about only sending 50% of it. Not to mention the dean of the graduate school ends up emailing me and my classmate and was like, “Due to the state of your preparation, I highly recommend you take your exam in May rather than April.” That’s when the tears were building behind my eyes.

But here’s the thing, 1) we were told THREE weeks ago we couldn’t do that and 2) and since then I’ve been busting my ass to prepare. My boss wasn’t back in lab yet, so I didn’t really know what to say to the dean. I ended up “ignoring” her email. And so, I emailed my boss the updated version (version 5) and told him I wanted to speak to him Thursday. The next morning he said he would talk to us.

Thursday comes and I’m in lab early, stationed at the computer, watching the the “skype for business” app for the little green light to appear next to my boss’ name. When his status changed, I announced to the whole office, “He’s here! He’s here!”

I resisted the urge to bombard him immediately and did some small work tasks for about half an hour. Plenty of time to him to settle in, right?

Trying to keep it cool but the anticipation of speaking to boss-man is too much too handle.

First of all, we told him how nice to was to see him. Literally, it was REALLY NICE to see him. We had some small talk on his trip and his flight back. Then straight to business.

After explaining our progress and the dean’s email, he said we are prepared to defend in April as we had planned. After that, my nerves calmed back down.

Friday: Two revisions later (also that’s new…I don’t think I’ve revised a paper SEVEN times before), an exception memo, paperwork finally turned in.  It’s official:

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Oh my GOODNESS! It’s really happening?! And I have TWO EXPERIMENTS to run, analyze, and incorporate into my partially completed presentation.  Oh my goodness I have so much work to do…wish me luck.

Anyways, this was the first time stress actually took a toll on my body too. Friday morning I woke up with a pain in my side. That basically set my weekend plans: rest.

To kick things off, a buddy and I complained about work over a beer. ^_^



Fried Eggs

Well the title says it all:

I’m fried.

This week was exhausting. But it was totally worth it.

The conference was such an experience. First off, the hotel I choose was a-mazing. Yes, it was a little on the expensive side (I spent two-thirds of my travel award on a 3 night stay) but still…

What a fancy shower head. And it has a hose too?! Ah luxury.

The shower alone was worth every penny. Needless to say, I showered every night. ^_^

I’m also glad I decided to pack my orange dress. I always felt like the color was too much in most places, but in San Diego it was perfect.

When the conference started up, I walked around looking at posters related to my thesis. Then I spent some time mustering up some courage to go talk to vendors. As my lab mates told me, “Get out there and get some free stuff to bring back!”

At first the thought of talking to them was nerve wrecking. I put myself in a frenzy worrying about what I’d say to them. Then I realized, “Hey I use this stuff everyday. I have nothing to be afraid of.”

Although I didn’t get a lot of stuff, I got a few things of high value. I got several free biologicals (antibodies) samples and a free DNA extraction kit. I also told a vendor we’ve been using their products in lab and that I’m a “huge fan”. She took down my info and recently offered the lab a discount of the product I was raving about. I also talked to another vendor and told them I was having a problem with an antibody I just purchased (for $500 nonetheless, so I was pretty upset when I used it and got no results). I showed him my issue and I got a bag, a pen, a shirt, and a USB at the conference for my problems. On Friday, one of their reps contacted me to follow up which was nice.

I also went over to talk to “Jim the myograph guy” because he asked me to come over and say hi. But no freebies from that, just an awkward conversation because we haven’t actually used the myograph for any experiments yet.

In the afternoon, I attended a pain research seminar where ran into a student I TA for out of the blue and met another kid from Univ. of Maryland-Baltimore. Then we all went off to the poster session for the finalists and the “mixer” later that night. I say “mixer” because most people just hung out with the people they knew which, to me, is the opposite of mixing. Hence why there was a ton of free alcohol being served. lol. And so day 1 ended.

Day 2 was my big day. That was the day I was presenting my poster. So I walked over at 9am to hang my poster. Then I went to the Wnt signalling session since my new Baltimore friend was presenting. Afterwards the time had come…to present my poster!

Honestly, I really didn’t really know what to expect in the hour I was manning my poster. But I didn’t expect people to be so awkward. Let me explain, they schedule your time at your poster so that your immediate neighboring posters aren’t also being manned. That way you have a chance to talk to other people and see other manned posters afterwards. So there I was…it was just me and other girl across from me (she’s from Emory doing research in vitamin D intake in children) and literally, people came walking down our row would looked at other posters around us. 90% of the people I saw looked at me, smiled, and stopped at a poster to the left or right of me. And I’m like, “Duh helllllo?! I’m right here!” So I engaged my pick up line, “Do you drink green tea?” 🙂

Do you drink green tea? Let me tell you about some benefits of drinking tea.

The first person I spoke to was a man from Morrison, CO (hey a fellow Coloradian!) who asked me to go through my poster. When I got half way through, his phone rang to which he answered it, walked away, and never came back. And at that point I felt very discouraged.

Next person I talked to was an undergrad who was more interested in my undergrad research than what I was presenting there. -_-

But the next person was someone who sought me out. She told me she had rheumatoid arthritis, and read the recent article about our group. She told me to tell her everything about my poster. It made me feel what I did actually meant something–even if it was only for that one person.

And finally, I spoke to a Post Doc from Arizona who wanted to start research in my field. So he asked how I obtained the cells, treatments, etc. He got in touch with me Friday as well just to say hi. 🙂

But there was one thing all the people I talked to had in common: they were all impressed that I was only in my second year of my PhD. Made me realize two things:

  1. Despite all the drama going on at school, I’ve accomplish a lot.
  2. Not only have I accomplished much, I’m still young. Therefore, I still have a lot left to give.

I will admit, I came out of the entire experience with a sense of pride. ^_^

Proud Sabi. ^_^

With that being said, I FINISHED MY GRANT PROPOSAL!!!

These people are celebrating me finishing my proposal.

Three days of traveling followed by two loooong days writing has resulted in a exhausted me.

My feet are tired from all the walking, and my brain is tired from all the thinking. It’s time to have a quiet weekend with a bottle of nice wine and a kitchen nightmare marathon.

Talk to you guys later! -Sabrina

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Take me back to San Diego.