Retrospection Without Regret

Retrospection is a funny thing. It often causes us to jeer and heckle at our past tribulations, trivializing our obstacles and exposing our past naivete. As my girlfriend always reminds me though, hindsight is always 20/20. It is always in reflection that we think our panic attacks were a tad bit over-dramatic and that our reactions to our dilemmas were rather disproportionate.

A year ago, in this very time frame, I felt I had reached the nadir of my educational/professional life. I had just graduated in May of that 2009 in a particularly volatile period where the economy was the antithesis of booming and when a Bachelor’s degree (as pertaining to the world of science) became the new GED–useless if this was your final destination, but necessary if furthering your education. Since May, I had spent the next four months looking for a job, rather ironic considering in my last year of college, I held down 3 jobs on top of being a full-time student.

In addition to being jobless, I was falling behind on handing in applications for grad school. I was also slowly being excommunicated from my parents who saw little good in my declaring a year off, something not very many of my friends or family had ever done. Pretty soon, I was dirt poor and could not pay my rent, had about 20 job interviews that all proved to be futile, and was making a rather deplorable case to my parents on why taking a year in between undergrad and grad school would be beneficial. Continue reading

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Of Bears and Badgers

It’s been more than six weeks here on the island,  and I’ve yet to say that I’m feeling homesick. There are pangs of homesick-like tendencies though, feelings of nostalgia uncovered from whatever crevice or fold they were concealed in within your mind, hitting you like a sack of bricks when least expected. The most recent one I can remember was evoked from football. It just occurred to me the other day that it’ll be one of my first years where I won’t have season football tickets for college football. “Sunday” and “Monday” will not precede “Night Football.” I won’t be able to fall asleep watching football highlights to Sportscenter on ESPN. The Chicago Bears’ and the Wisconsin Badgers’ victories will never be seen live, but only as replays and second-hand information from the likes of the internet and old commentators. Am I being over-dramatic? A tad. Am I being stupid? NOPE. Football is a culture and even paradise itself can’t destroy what you deem as habit and an institution. I guess I’ll just have to start learning how to stream games live via the internet. It’s still never as good as watching a game live at a bar surrounded by other go-hard-or-go-home fans or, better yet, being there, chanting obscenities, taking part in an ostentatious display of crassness, losing all accountability, consigned to oblivion in a sea of crimson red and Badger pride.

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

My research mentor for most of my undergraduate career.

As an undergrad at UW, I was fortunate to work in James Thomson’s regenerative biology lab. Jamie (as he was fondly known) was the first cellular biologist in the world to derive the first set of human embryonic stem cell lines and in 2007, matched his previous brilliance with a new ability to program adult skin cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells. Although rather demure in nature, Jamie’s novel work catapulted him into not only the limelight of scientific endeavor but also the ire of certain conservatives as well. His breakthroughs were discussed in terms of not only medical impact and potential for progress but initiated tangents on moral and ethical guidelines. From the Bush administration to the Obama administration, regulating stem cell research is a topic still laced with obstacles and contrived of many ill-formed perspectives. The promise stem cells hold in terms of treatment towards many debilitating diseases on the face of planet today is boundless and immense—something I won’t even attempt to approach in this blog. Likewise, the amount of funding poured into such research endeavors stands to be astounding, especially if the president is allowed to lift the limit on how much funding can be provided. Continue reading