Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Being Thoughtful about Everything and BE Commlab Fun

Preparing for the research proposal presentation was fun. Our project involved transition metal chemistry, nanoparticle design, in vivo mouse trials and a small dose of quantum mechanics. Proposing a study required thinking on multiple levels: both keeping track of the details of each experiment, reminding myself of the big picture at each step, and not prioritizing what I already know over what takes more work to figure out. Which brings the main topic of this blog post: Being Thoughtful About Everything.

The main problem we hoped to solve was how to dissociate carbon monoxide from hemoglobin and subsequently eliminate from the bloodstream. Ok, how? Reid suggested nanoparticle chelation. Ok, sounds good, done. Right? That is where details came in. How much NP is necessary? How do we design it? Administer it? Show it is non-toxic? Show it binds CO? Show that our therapy works? With each question came more questions. Ok, we have a murine model. How much CO should it breathe? How can we administer light without overheating or damaging blood vessels? I think Super-Thankfully Lab-Partner Reid was especially good at asking questions, and not being satisfied with handwavy answers. Teamwork makes dreamwork.

Meeting with BE commlab, I learned two things: 1) thinking about our project was not the same as communicating it and 2) we still have to be thoughtful about everything, and talking to another person usually helps. In initial runthroughs of our presentation, I think we lost the big picture that we were going for and had to get rid of some of the details in subsequent trials.

Hopefully this helped the big picture come through in our final version, but it was still a bit painful at the time. We also were asked a question by commlab that we hadn't thought about before--would the use of a stationary phase alter transition metal binding. Lo and behold, the same question was asked during presentation. Turns out those guys know what they are doing. I guess the takeaway was that there is no such thing as too much detail when it comes to knowledge, even if there is such a thing as too much detail on a Powerpoint slide.

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