Home for the Holidays

I made it through those stressful jam-packed last few weeks! Now I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight home.

Since I am not sitting in the office, the picture of George Square Gardens is from last Thursday when it snowed! Not only did it snow, but the snow actually collected and took a day to melt! As you can probably tell, my whole office was already in the Christmas spirit as displayed by the paper snowflakes, we also have paper chains and a toy brain wearing a Santa hat. We went all out with our decorations.

Journal club
I must say that I was most worried about my journal club presentation. The format for journal club is simple: give background information about the article you are presenting and then critically present the results and the authors’ conclusions. The hard part is that in order to be able to be critical, you really need to understand the experiments, the results and the authors’ interpretations. That part tends to be much less straightforward. I think I read the paper about a dozen times. Obviously the whole lab participates and it is fine just to ask why a certain experiment was performed. Since we present papers from our field, it also allows us to see how other groups conduct their experiments and interpret their findings and see whether we could be doing our experiments differently or better.

10-week report
I must admit that I wasn’t as worried as my fellow first-year students about my report. As I am continuing the project from my MSc, I had already read most of the important papers that I used for my background information and my supervisor and I have weekly meetings where we discuss what I have done during the week as well as what I will be doing in the future. I think that that part is key and it made it easy for me to write up the experiments that I intend to do during this first year.

Graduation
If anyone has any doubts about coming to study at the University of Edinburgh, despite the fact that the research here is cutting-edge, the supervisors and staff are very knowledgeable and it is a beautiful university, I highly recommend it, if only for the graduation ceremony! It takes place in McEwan Hall in Bristo Square. The building itself awe-inspiring with the murals and intricate ceiling. It was beautiful and inspiring. It was so precisely coordinated and wonderfully executed.

Christmas celebrations
I have had so many mince pies in the past few weeks… First we had our office Christmas dinner complete with turkey, roast potatoes and Christmas jumpers. Then came the School of Biomedical Sciences festive drinks, the postgrad and postdoc holiday fun, the lab Christmas-do and a partridge in a pear tree (I probably think that I am funnier than I actually am).

Experiments
Lucky for me, I managed to fit my 2 live-cell imaging days and my fixed-cell imaging day around all of the Christmas festivities. Even more luckily, all of the experiments seem to have worked, there were no microscope or cell problems! My next three weeks will be spent sipping eggnog by the fire while spending some quality time with ImageJ. Although data analysis can be quite tedious and repetitive, I  also find it exciting, because you get to see whether your experiments worked or not and you get to plan what the next step will be. I think it is rewarding when you look at all of your results, though I may be biting my tongue if after all of my analysis I realise that my experiments didn’t work. I guess that that will be 2015’s problem…

Now off to catch my flight! Happy Holidays to all!