Monday, November 24, 2014

My First Rotation

     I'm giving my first poster talk of my graduate school career tomorrow, along with approximately half of my cohort (the other half had their posters today). We are supposed to present what we accomplished over the past 10 weeks, during our first rotation. Though I understand that the real purpose of this poster session is to practice our communication skills and have the to opportunity to see what our peers have been doing, it's still mildly frustrating to feel like you don't have enough material to work with. Let's be honest, it's basically impossible to do enough novel research, in a field you're new to, in 10 weeks, to adequately fill an entire poster.

     I wanted to upload the entire poster here, but there are probably some issues with that. On going research and all... But, I've gotten a couple of compliments on my poster design, so I'm thinking that I may use it as a template in the future. I've removed most of the text and details from the poster, so you can give me feedback on the visual aspects. A couple of things to take into consideration: there's a difference between an empty and filled poster, and some of the specifics of the current layout are a bit "bloated" to make up for the fact that there wasn't a ton of content (a bit more could be squeezed in, I'm sure).

Also, check out that QR code. It can take attendees straight to some of my microscopy videos, to help them visualize what I'm talking about. It wasn't my idea, but it's still pretty exciting. Here's the link it takes you to :

You can watch one of the videos here too, if you prefer.

But back to the actual poster, I'd gladly take any comments or suggestion about layout, style, design, etc.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What is Genomics?

I just began my second of three rotations this week, so it's been a busy transition time. But I thought I would share this short genomics video. It's really basic, which may or may not be appealing to you.

This video came from the "Education" tab from the website of my new lab. Feel free to check it out (or the rest of the site, for that matter) to get a better idea of what I'm working on at the moment.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Desktop

With my Birthday, Black Friday, and Christmas all right around the corner, I haven't been able to keep myself from thinking about the possibility of purchasing my first desktop upgrade. It's not that my computer needs work per se, I just built it in July, but I did stay under budget with the idea of upgrading in mind.

The relevancy of my desktop is complicated by two matters.

Generally, in the computational biology world, desktops can be a bit of an awkward middleman. For most everyday computing (reading papers, browsing the web, note taking, PowerPoint creation, light scripting, etc.), I am going to be on my laptop. I have to be in lab and class, so portability is necessary. On the other hand, if any real analysis is going to be needed, the lab should have workstations built for their pipeline or access to a cluster. I suppose that between those two things, it's easy to think that a home desktop isn't worth it.

Specifically, because I'm still rotating, I don't know what my long term computing needs are going to be. The bottlenecks are obviously going to be dependent on the nature of the analysis. Or the data may absolutely require that it be run on a cluster, so as long as I have a functioning terminal, everything is fine.

In this past rotation, however, having a desktop has been fantastic. I've been generating about 6 GB of image data per experiment-- and already filled 142 GB of my storage drive. Analyzing videos in ImageJ on a laptop with 4 GB of RAM isn't pleasant, and the lab didn't have an open workstation for me at the moment. One particular analysis quickly maxes out the 16 GB I currently have on my desktop. Homework also gets finished a lot faster with the extra screen space. I like the ability to have RStudio, Chrome, and the problem set all open side by side.

I don't have a particular point I'm trying to make here, I'm just considering the pros and cons of sinking money into what I primarily use as a work machine. Of course, I have made a bit of a hobby out of computer building and component researching, so there's a large amount of enjoyment simply from the process. And I would be lying to myself if I didn't admit a bit of pride in having a (fairly) fancy desktop I built sitting in the living room.

Anyway, now that the background and situation have been established, I'll leave brief updates as I continue to add and refresh components in the coming months and years. Having a complete history might be quite interesting by graduation if Moore's law keeps up. Here's a link to my current build:

I'd love to see what everyone else is working with (or dreaming about), so share your build below. Or, if you have suggestions for my first upgrade, post that.