Monday, August 24, 2009


A lot of crazy crap happened this last week, and I'm just now getting a second to write about it.

Early Monday morning (like 5:45 a.m.) I took off to Park City for the Society of Invertebrate Pathology annual conference. Last year it was in England, next year it's in Turkey. Lucky me, I got the year it was in Utah. Actually, that's probably the main reason I got to go.

We arrived at the Canyons Grand Summit resort in time for breakfast, a wonderful buffet. The week would be filled with such buffets. I was a basketcase because my presentation wasn't done and I had to present my research at 3:30.

My research. Last September I started working in Dr. Byron Adam's lab. The Nematode Evolution Lab. We study worms. It sounds really lame put that way, but it turns out nematodes are one of the most important and abundant lifeforms on the planet. Back in October I started on an RNAi resistance project. We ordered a bunch of mutant C. elegans strains that are deficient in the RNAi pathway, and therefore immune to the effects of RNA interference. I've been culturing these strains since then and trying to determine how fit the mutants are compared to the wildtype. I've been able to show that there seems to be a fitness cost to the mutants, more or less. This is good because it will keep the mutant alleles very rare in the natural populations . . . ya da ya da ya da. What a snooze, right? This might all be over your heads, but it was pretty elementary at this research conference. I sat through countless lectures of bigwig professors, doctoral students and postdocs with super impressive powerpoints and years of extensive research (and hundreds of incomprehensible bar graphs). When it finally came time to give my presentation I felt like I was giving a science fair project.

I was the only undergrad to present that day, and one of two total undergrads at the conference. So even if my research wasn't earth-shattering, it was still a feather in my cap. I can now put "presented original research at an international conference" on my resume. So that's pretty cool.

Tuesday was a bunch of lectures and a 5k in the afternoon. Byron was in charge of the 5k so we got the privilege of setting up the trail and directing traffic so people didn't get lost on the mountain. After a brief barbecue Ashton picked me up and we headed to Bountiful to participate in Seth's setting apart as a missionary. That was neat.

Wednesday morning we went out to eat at Mimi's cafe for breakfast before shipping off Seth. That place is good! Even though he was in his suit and tie and all packed up, it still didn't hit me that he was really leaving until he stood at the door of our house and we both started tearing up. I just wanted to keep giving him hugs, to talk a little bit more about his novel, to go for another run on the river together. Two years is a long time. I've managed to get married and have a kid in two years. The next two years will be really exciting for us, I'm sure, as we head off to medical school. But for the most part it's business as usual, only now there's a void that Seth left behind. At least he gets the benefit a completely different life for the next two years. That definitely makes it exciting. I'll be chronicling his mission on a blog for him:

I felt guilty leaving the research conference early, since Byron had paid so much money for me to be up there, so I left early Thursday morning to head back up. I got there just as breakfast was ending, and my fellow labsters were surprised to see me there. They informed me that they weren't going to the morning lectures because they were boring and about fungi. Instead they were going to take the morning off and go mountain biking. This made me feel even more guilty, since I had left Ashton with Samuel, who had been pretty colicky lately, with the intention of getting more out of the conference. Byron rented me a really nice Trek mountain bike and we got gondola passes and spent the morning on the mountain. This was my first time mountain biking, and it was pretty intense on some of the trails, but after a couple hours I got the hang of it and was cruising down the mountain pretty confidently. It's definitely something I would like to do again.

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