Today I was presented with the Joab Langston Thomas Scholarship. This one-time award is presented to an outstanding graduate student based upon scholarship, creativity, and potential for becoming an outstanding scholar and teacher.
Most importantly, it was an excuse to wear my DNA x-ray crystallography skirt! :-)
Thank you to my department, and congratulations to all students who were honored today!
For the past two weeks, I've been up at the University of South Carolina, visiting collaborators Dan Speiser and Alex Kingston. We had a phenomenal time further exploring the radula, and I can't wait to share what we found. Can't wait. Keeping the excitement properly controlled is difficult.
I wrote many pages, answered many questions, and drew many diagrams, but I can now say that I am a PhD candidate. I don't have a cute picture to go with this, so here's a cool set of chiton valves instead. I used this set as a fidgeting tool as I studied- nothing like a chiton jigsaw puzzle to give your hands something to do!
More good research news! The Conchologists of America funded my research proposal! This funding will allow me to do much more in depth comparisons of transcription within the radula. By dividing the teeth up into four "phases" of iron deposition, we will be able to ask exactly what is happening as the teeth develop.
I just got back from the Florida Keys, and now have 40 samples in the freezer, ready for RNA extraction and sequencing. Very excited to move this project forward!
The University of Alabama has a special connection to EO Wilson, as he got his bachelor's and master's degrees here. In fact, there is still a sketch of an ant he drew on the wall in my building.
In his honor, each summer the UA Biology Department grants three students with fellowships to assist them in summer field work. I'm delighted to say that I was awarded one of these fellowships, along with fellow graduate students Sergei Bombin and Phoenix Rogers! Sergei is a budding phycologist (... can a phycologist be "budding?"), while Phoenix works on aquatic insects.
I'll be using my fellowship for expenses related to our summer field work. Congrats to all three of us!