Another milestone was reached this week for Liam and Conro as they entered the second year of their PhDs. The transition of a prospective PhD student into year 2 is marked by an talk to the whole institute as part of their rite of passage. It’s quite a stressful time, the first real opportunity to show exactly what you have achieved in the past year and where you are going next. These talks are also accompanied by the fear of what insightful questions will you get from the senior faculty. However, both Liam and Conro have good stories to tell that are both about to enter the fun stage after a year of graft to set up new model systems.
Unfortunately, the room was pretty dark so you’ll have to trust me that the boys were there!
Liam has spent the past year using CRISPR to introduce a series of targeted mutations into laminin encoding genes so that he can investigate some understudied aspects of their function. This work has involved ridiculous amounts of cell culture as he has grown literally hundreds of individual cells up to whole flasks so that he can have clones where every cell has the same genetic change. He has now screened all these clones for the different mutations he wants. Perhaps unexpectedly, when I asked Liam for a quote he was quite prosaic…
“We all die eventually, Dr or not, but Dr looks better on a tombstone”
However,the hard, boring but necessary work is almost over and he now has 2 and a bit years of doing fun experiments ahead of him.
Conro has also been doing the groundwork to set up the rest of his studies. In his case, the focus has been on developing a new transgenic mouse model. He was a bit more effusive (and ebullient) when I asked for something to include here, so I will use his own words.
Charging triumphantly into second year
“As of this week, I am officially into the 2nd year of my PhD. As you’d expect, there are new targets and skills to develop, but now is a nice time to reflect on the achievements of the first year. The major headline is that we made a LaNt overexpressing mouse! We are now at a stage where we can answer the riddle of LaNt in development, and we can then investigate the role of LaNt in specific tissues.
As I was forewarned, PhDs are a journey of ups and downs, and yes there are times of high stress, or you might get a string of blots that don’t work before you finally crack it, making the perseverance worth it.
There’s a couple of other things I’ve been working on, but more on those when they come to fruition. However, one of my proudest achievements is being recognised as the dress-code trend-setter that I am. Schmoos are the future!
To summarise; I’m happy with the stage I’m at, and I’m looking forward to generating some awesome data in the near future!”
If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably be wondering about the lack of cartoons. Don’t worry, Conro included some in his presentation…
Good job gentlemen!
edit: Conro requested that I add a schmoo picture