Monday, November 30, 2009

Feast or Famine

It's never a consistent meal-plan.

Anyone else experience this? (I'm not talking about food.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Confocal Microscopy and Cell Segmenting - Hearts

Don't be scared. I promise you can understand this.

So at the beginning of this semester, I started working in a research lab at the U. So far it's been a really cool learning experience for me. Sometimes it's frustrating because I feel like I'm not much of a contribution (which is true), but over the next couple of years, this should give me a great experience, and help with applications to grad schools and employment in the future.

I just wanted to explain a little about what I do. Overall the purpose is to better understand how heart cells change when they are in a diseased state vs. a normal state, so that we can know how to replace those cells with tissue engineered ones - (as one possible solution).

What I do is take rabbit and rat hearts, and slice them into very thin (~100 micrometers) slices, and then dye them with antibodies that attach specifically to proteins on the cell membrane, followed by secondary antibodies which fluoresce. Then, we use confocal microscopy to create a 3-d image of the fluorescent antibodies which outline the cell. It looks something like this, only with a bunch of cells all connected to each other, rather than separate:

My main responsibility is to use a computer program to form an outline in 3 dimensions of as many of these cells as I can, without the outlines overlapping, and as close to the actual borders of the cells as possible. These images are then processed and we are able to analyze how the cells deform given certain stresses or other stimuli.

It's cool to be able to learn more about this, and it makes me more and more interested in hearts and how they function. After all, our heart is the life-organ of our existence.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Leaf Day

Today was leaf day. For those of you who aren't in my family. Here it is:

Every year, this tree in our backyard waits until the very last moment to shed its leaves. It's almost always after the first real snowstorm of winter. All of the other trees lose their leaves over time, but this one dumps them all in one day. So it's become a sort of holiday in our family called Leaf Day. Traditions? Enjoy the beauty of falling leaves onto a blanket of snow!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh how I love institute!

So if you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend taking an institute class from Bro. Frogley at the University of Utah Institute. At the beginning of this semester, I was concerned with how I was going to keep the motivation to get through the next year of hard classes after a summer semester.

Luckily, on the first day of the semester, I went to Bro. Frogley's class, and after it was over, I knew that throughout the semester, my institute class would be what would help keep me motivated about working hard and doing well in all of my other classes. It really has too.


Brother Frogley teaches differently than any seminary or institute teacher I've ever had before. He's so focused on ensuring that we not only hear what he says, but that we have a change of heart and desire to do something about what we learn from the Spirit. I'm in his 3 Nephi - (Sermons of the Savior) class. We started in chapter 11, and we're only just finishing chapter 13 right now. We take so much time analyzing every scripture by defining words, even conjunctions and their functions :) and Brother Frogley does an amazing job at teaching us what he has learned about the scriptures and how much information is packed in each verse, so it takes forever just to get through one section - and I love it. It's cool that at the end of class I think "Oh man, it's already been an hour?" and not wanting to leave because I'm learning so much about what I should be changing in my life.

So, if I could explain it all to you in greater detail, explaining every verse like we have in class, I would. But I can't right now, because of time. So I recommend taking a class from him and actively participating so you can understand what I'm talking about. However, as a brief example, I will explain a couple of verses from chapter 13 that we talked about today:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

I'm even going to have to shorten this, because I think we spent 30 min. talking about these few verses. Basically, we were trying to determine how we can become "grace-giving servants" to those around us. When we talked about treasures, in the context of v. 21, we discussed how the heart is the center of the soul, and whatever is in our hearts (our treasure) will be what determines our confidence, our power, our support, etc. Treasures on earth (money, prestige, even family) are corruptible, and therefore are not guaranteed to be eternal. Really, the only thing that we know is incorruptible is God. So our treasure, we decided, should be the Savior, which should be the focus of our hearts. The next couple of verses (some of my favorites) are "next" for a reason. They answer the question "How do we keep the Savior in our hearts all the time?". Because the eye is a "conduit" to the heart, if we view good things, or if we view the Savior in all things, then our hearts will automatically become focused on him, and the result is that "[our] whole body shall be filled with light".

Again, this is a watered-down version without a lot of the amazing comments that people give in class, and reading this is probably less influential on you than hearing it was for me in a spiritual setting, but even then, isn't that cool how many new insights you gained from those few verses? We do that with every scripture we read.

So yeah, take institute, because it'll give you the boost and motivation you need to do better.