Playing Grown-up

Yesterday I arrived in Colorado for some kind of research conference or something. I've been wandering around since then pretending to be the kind of grown-up scientist that goes to science meetings and stuff. I heard a lot of scientific talks about a lot of things I don't understand. After that, I stood and answered questions for a few hours about a research project that we did in our lab that I understand a little bit better. I suppose this is good practice for someday when I'm not just pretending to be a grown-up scientist anymore. I don't know when that day will be, but I have my fingers crossed that it happens.

The poster my lab submitted to the conference


Odds and Ends

It's been a while.

In a nutshell...
New apartment. New ward. New calling.
Old lab. Old friends. Old job.

Regarding School...
I petitioned back in September to be made a PhD student instead of a Masters student. By opting not to finish my MS and jump straight to PhD, and by opting to stay at BYU instead of graduating and going elsewhere for my PhD, I save myself about 4 years. Seemed like a pretty obvious choice to me.

I have been unofficially accepted.... (aka: all the faculty in my department congratulated me and welcomed me aboard as a doctoral candidate, but I'm still waiting on the actual acceptance letter from the university...)

Regarding Research...
The microscope images I spent 9 months on finally worked out. It was a beautiful moment.

Mouse myotubes (C2C12); Mitochondrial staining with MitoTracker Red

A paper I authored was accepted for publication. I will be presenting said paper at a conference next week.

I was introduced to this little gem in a class today, and decided to share it in honor of all the qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) I've done this week:

So now you all know the truth. That's how I spend my time....

Regarding Everything Else...
I'm going home this weekend to see Andrakay, who will be in town for the Distinguished Young Women of Idaho program in which her younger sister is participating. I haven't seen her since she got married last August, so I'm very excited for that :)

I'm also excited to watch General Conference with my family this weekend! I hope wherever you are, you get a chance to watch/listen/read too!

Getting Close...

I am getting down to the end with this book list. I've been reading other things as well, so it hasn't progressed incredibly quickly. Only 5 more to go!

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Survivor's Club by Lisa Gardner
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis
Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt
Middlemarch by George Elliot
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordin
The Danger by Dick Francis
Laddie, a True Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter
Merchant of Death by D. J. MacHale
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall


Recipe Update

I've been horrible about updating my recipes list lately (and by lately I mean for 3 months...) This is not because I haven't been cooking. With no roommates and no classes it's one of the only things I AM doing these days :)

So here are 13 recipes that I've made, in approximately the order they happened...sortof. Thirteen weeks is a long time to remember, but I did my best

Ice Cream Crunch Bars
Pecan Pie Bars
Homemade Soft Pretzels (really fun!)
Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate (underwhelming...)
Breaded Balsamic Chicken (this one was the invention of necessity...and no official recipe exists)
Nutella Banana Ice Cream (modified from my Ben and Jerry's cookbook)
Cherry Sherbet (labor-intensive)
White Almond Sour Cream Cake
Raspberry Crumb Pie
Zucchini Ribbon Pasta with Creamy Lemon Basil Sauce (5 stars!)
Meltaway Cookies (totally a grodie recipe...don't try this one)
JDawgs Sauce

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but I was only behind by 13, so here they are. I solemnly swear to not let myself get behind like that again!


Mad Science

Ladies and Gentlemen! I give you...


This image was taken with a transmission electron microscope in a lab on Brigham Young University campus. It is from a mouse skeletal muscle cell that I cultured in my lab. Muwahahaha!


Grand Canyon, Briefly

At some point I intend to write a more thorough post about our trip to the Grand Canyon, but for right now I just wanted to post a couple pictures.

It was really windy. We all have pretty weird hair in all of our photos as a result.


Softball Season Summary

My little team improved so much during the season! It was a lot of fun to coach them, even if thirteen 9-year-olds sometimes felt like twelve too many. We ended up getting second place in the tournament, even though we started the tournament in last place.

(There may or may not have only been 3 teams in the tournament. Regardless, I was still very proud....especially since my girls made a double play in the semi-finals!)

A friend of mine came to one of our last games and took a few pictures.

One of my players was a little sad because her foot got stepped on.

The best softball coaches pace and yell while coaching third. Or so I've heard...


More pacing.

Assigning positions before my girls take the field.

Team picture hanging on my refrigerator


Tribute to Old Friends

When I was a junior in high school I bought a pair of Puma Roma shoes. They've been with me through thick an thin ever since then, and we've had some great adventures together.

Pumas at Fountains Abbey 

Pumas in Dover

Pumas at Stonehenge

All those years and that globe-canvassing have taken a toll on my trusty companions. Lately they haven't been looking so good.

Which is why I bought a brand new pair of Puma Romas last week. I hadn't realized just how bad of shape my old shoes were in until I put them side by side.


Good News :)

The following email just appeared in my inbox. The result was lots of screaming and jumping and screaming and  dancing. And a little more screaming.

Dear Melissa,

After an extensive review by two committees followed by careful deliberation by Dean Wynn Stirling, you have been chosen to receive the Graduate Research Fellowship award in the amount of $15,000.  Attached please find your award letter discussing the conditions of this award.  Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the attached letter or the fellowship award in general.

Congratulations on this great accomplishment.  Less than 30% of the applications we received were awarded monies, so you are to be commended for your excellent proposal.

Have a nice day.


(More screaming and dancing. I'm sure the entire 5th floor of the Widstoe building is now aware of my elation!)


Feeling Uninspired

I have quite a bit of free time this summer. I live alone, and my class 'load' consists of a golf class and a yoga class. I do research for my thesis. I TA a pathophysiology class. I coach a softball team. But mostly I spend lots of time entertaining myself in the quiet of my living room. Lately this entertainment has been mostly in the form of books (material for a future post) but I also spend time online reading blogs, facebook stalking cute boys, checking email, and browsing Pinterest.

In my casual perusal of Pinterest, I have become exposed to a phenomenon I wasn't aware existed until recently. It is also a phenomenon that I despise with my whole soul. It's called "thinspiration." And it's disgusting.

Pictures like these are often accompanied by sayings like "sweat is fat crying" or "pain is weakness leaving the body."

These pictures are not real, and they are not realistic. These women are not healthy. Few, if any, of these women have regular menstrual cycles. In other words, their bodies have made the executive decision that they no longer have enough nutrients and fuel to sustain one life, let alone two.

I study obesity and TA a class about disease. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that a few times. I know as well as anyone the risks involved in being overweight or obese. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, etc. But I also know that an estimated 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. About 90% of those 24 million Americans are girls and women. Many of them will never be able to have children because of the damage their eating disorder causes to their reproductive system. Many of them will die from complications caused by their eating disorder.

This is not okay. If you are guilty of perpetuating false ideas about what fit, healthy or beautiful looks like, shame on you. The next time you're tempted to 'pin' some 'inspirational' piece of garbage, remember that your physical body is a gift from God, and he expects you to treat it like the temple it is. If you struggle with an eating disorder, please PLEASE get help.


Third Time's a Charm; or The Vindicated Anti-social

***Warning: this post contains a bit of gore. Proceed with caution.***

My first trip to the emergency room was when I was around the age of ten. It was dark and I was chasing my cousin Sam around my grandma's tree. I didn't see the bird bath hanging from a low branch and ran right into it. It cut the skin next to my eye, so we slapped a washcloth on it and went to the ER. The doctor insisted that stitches weren't necessary because it wasn't going to scar. In the end he was wrong, but I didn't mind much at the time because I had successfully avoided being prodded repeatedly with a needle.

My second trip to the emergency room was when I was about 17. I was slicing an apple while at Girls' Camp and the knife slipped, making a thin but deep incision at the base of my index finger. I went in search of a bandaid, but when one of the men supervising the camp saw the blood and came to investigate, he insisted I be taken for stitches. The camp nurse cleaned and bandaged the cut and we set off back toward civilization where we met my mom at the ER. When the doctor unwrapped my hand to clean and put in stitches, the cut had closed by itself. The only evidence that I'd had a cut at all was the blood all over the bandages. I was, again, relieved at not having to be sewn back together.

Last night I took my third trip to the emergency room. This time, I wasn't so lucky.

Some people in my ward were gathering to play 'Ultimate Frisbee.' As a general rule, I avoid such gatherings because a) I am an avowed recluse and don't like people, b) I am terrible at Ultimate, and c) I make a point of not doing things I am horrible at in front of other people. I was in my kitchen loading the dishwasher when there was a knock at my door and I received a personal invitation. So I thought, 'What could it hurt? My book can wait....and human interaction might be good for me.' Famous last words...

The frisbee had been thrown approximately once when I collided, face-first, with Frank.* We both stumbled back and I felt something wet and vaguely sticky on my face. Blood.

So the girl who had driven us to the park brought me and Frank back to my apartment. I grabbed my wallet with insurance information, a washcloth and snapped a few pictures before we left for the ER.

About 1.5 hours and five stitches later, I was good to go home. The stitching experience wasn't nearly as terrible as I'd imagined it would be. The worst part was having the side of my face get numbed. I hate being numb.

This is right after I got home. Some of the stuff they injected me with made my eyelid swell so much that it was pretty hard to open my eye. Also, I think that a lot of the 'bruising' in this picture is probably just smeared makeup.

Here's what it looks like this morning.

Still a little puffy, but definitely not as colorful.

A silver lining from this experience: my girls are going to think I'm so tough at practice tonight.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Also, he apologized like 5 million times, so it wouldn't really be fair to demonize him on my blog.


Little League

To my great delight, I am coaching a little league softball team this summer comprised of 9 and 10 year old girls. They are a chatty, silly, energetic bunch and so far we've had a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, while I am busy coaching it's very difficult to snap photos. So you'll just have to take my word for it for now until I find a willing photographer.

Today was our first game. We played pretty well.....even if we didn't win. I think I probably learned more than the girls today, and I'll be adjusting my coaching strategies accordingly.

I did manage to snap this yes-I-used-self-timer-because-I-live-alone-and-have-no-friends photo of myself pre-game so you can all see how official I look as a coach. Which is pretty official, if I do say so myself.


It's That Time of Year

Date: Wednesday, April 18

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Riverside, ID

Temperature: 50*F (maybe...)

Wind chill: -35*F (possibly colder.)

Wardrobe: thermal underwear, two hooded sweatshirts, winter coat, hat, two blankets.

Occasion: Snake River v. Bear Lake softball game

Devoted Fans

Getting ready to go bat

And even though Haley's right ankle currently looks like this (due to a nasty encounter with a hole while coaching first base last week)

Her coach still put her in to play in center field.

Haley asked me not to post those fielding photos because she's making a pretty weird face in them (for a closer here.) On her behalf, I should include the disclaimer that the face she is making isn't her fault. It's genetic.

And besides that, she's been doing it her whole life.


Photo Montage

Hunger Games Premiere

My Lab

Samantha's Bridal Shower

Elder Smith's Easter Eggs