Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This week is Finals week at Purdue, so I will not be writing anything in depth this week.  I have already finished two exams but have two more before the week's end.  If you really need to get your science fix, try Io9.com.  And enjoy the new Big Ten Logo and Division names, I know I will (that is sarcasm for those who can't tell)!

I can't wait until we crown a Leaders and Legends Division Champions!  Really, that's the best we can do?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fragments

Last week I published a post on "Quick Random Thoughts."  I liked the idea of weekly putting together a bunch of little stories that I like.  So I introduce to the world my...Friday Fragments!

1) Movies!  The new Aliens prequel title was released (Paradise) and it was announced that it will being shooting next March.  I would like to see a new Aliens movie since Alien vs. Predator 2:Requiem was soooo good!  Next, the first trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and it features the famous Purdue astronaut, Neil Armstrong.  Check it out!

Lastly, I found a viral movie called The Tunnel.  It looks a bit like a crossed between Blair Witch and Cloverfield.  And it's only going to be released on torrents (which I despise).  However, I'm intrigued and will decide whether to get the movie once more trailers are out.  Oh and Inception is out on DVD!

2) Private Space Flight took some major steps forward as of late.  The Dragon Spacecraft became the first privately operated ship to reach orbit AND return to earth safely.  Owned by SpaceX, this is the future of space exploration since the Space Shuttle is retiring.  I will be working on a full write up with my opinions on the subject over the Holidays.

3) I believe there is a Boilermaker curse upon us.  Even the invincible Chris Kramer has suffered a knee injury in his first season with the NBA D-league Ft. Wayne Mad Ants.  This whole knee injury stuff is just getting annoying now!

4) And lastly...an 11-year old who can dunk.

I hope everyone enjoys the first Friday Fragments.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update - NASA's New Life?!

This evening I took a break from wrapping Christmas Presents and learning 2D NMR theory to just check the basic Yahoo news.  And to my surprise, NASA's new life form which I previously wrote about is in the news again.  This time, scientists are finding major holes into their research findings.  A really good, scientific review of the paper published by NASA researchers was posted on a blog by Dr. Rosemary J. Redfield.  It is an excellent analysis of NASA's work and it claims that NASA was sloppy.  There are many outlined flaws (such as execution of assays, to the starving of the organisms from phosphorous but leaving traces of phosphate salt within the experiment).

The most interesting comment by Dr. Redfield was, "If this data was presented by a PhD student at their committee meeting, I'd send them back to the bench to do more cleanup and controls."  To say this about our most famous research and scientific organization in the country and probably the world, is shocking but true.  I have asked for advice from professors and graduate students alike, and they all have one thing to say in common..."Make sure your controls are sound!"  I am a little disappointed that NASA's astrobiologists failed at such a simple research philosophy.

Check out the NASA report here.

My New Lab Office!

I have finally been given an office space in the lab at the Pharmacy Building.  Until now I have been in temporary office space in the building.  Honestly, my new space is not that much better than my permanent space, but hey, I'll take it.  I took a few pictures on my phone, which means they are a little blurry.  The space is new for Taylor's lab group and I will be sharing the space with at least one other person (probably a visiting professor).
 Door into office...across from the Dean's Office!

The space needs to be rearranged...

I believe that is a chalkboard, I'll have my own chalkboard (kinda)!

There is a little lab bench but I believe it may end up holding a fridge and microwave, LOL.

My favorite part, the door has an actual sign on it for Research in IPPH.

So there are a few things I like about this new space.  First, it is on the 1st floor of the Pharmacy building.  Now the lab and the rest of Taylor's lab group offices on in the basement, but I will have air conditioning (shhh, don't let them know that).  Second, I am more of an independent worker, so having a space that only houses 2 or 3 people total will be best for me in the long run.  One negative is that it does not have a window but most labs in the building do not have windows, that's just the design of the building.  I will post new pictures once I am moved into the lab and have my desk set-up.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google Chrome OS: One Step Closer to World Domination.

A little over 14 years ago, two graduate students at Stanford working on a project for the University Library came up with the idea for a new search engine based on their work within their studies.  The ability to find things most relevant to what you want was directly associated with how many other "items" that thing is associated with.  Applying this to websites, a search engine was created which has revolutionized the world.  Google was born and immediately became popular around the world for it's simplistic yet powerful tool to find what you want fast. Below is the original Beta test of Google, very similar to the Google of today.

Since that first Beta test, the "Google Machine," as it is sometimes referred, has developed a rapport with the public of unveiling current technologies better.  For example, Google Maps as most definitely overtaken Mapquest as the perferred online and mobile atlas.  Also, Gmail is one of the most common email providers in the world and most people even choose to link their other accounts into their Gmail account.

In 2005, Google started partnering (buying) with other major technological groups.  NASA and AOL/Time Warner partner with Google for an assortment of projects including the NORAD Tracks Santa Project.  In 2006, Google bought YouTube.com and partnered with Sony and Warner Brothers, making Google the epicenter of all things entertainment related.  Just recently Google has unveiled Google Phones which springboard off of Google's simple design and deliver a seamless interface for users.

But now the time has come for Google to take on the computer giants (Microsoft and Apple).  Google Chromium OS, named and based on the Chrome web browser, was released today for all the world to see.  It is exactly what you would expect from Google.  The OS itself is essentially a web browser that is your entire operating system.  It can run within your current OS or on an independent machine.  I have not had the opportunity to try it out nor will I get to anytime soon, but it looks and sounds simple, fast, and secure.  They claim it is ideal for those who spend most of their time on the internet while using their computer.

All these advances lead me to believe that Google's ultimate goal is to rule the technology realm..  Don't get me wrong, I use Google Chrome and Gmail and Google Maps and Google but I'm just sure the world will convert to Google OS like they did everything else.  I mean Windows is still by far the most preferred OS by businesses and universities alike.  There are some conversions to MAC out there, but MAC OS remains primarily a personal OS.  But, we must wait and see!  Check out a review of the OS here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

E. Coli - Friend or Foe?

As a kid and teenager, it was drilled into our minds that E. coli was bad.  It infects food and makes people sick and thus should be deemed an enemy for all eternity.  However, if that microbiology class taught me anything it's that all things have purpose.  Now, E. coli has many good uses, the best probable being a good host for DNA vectors and genomic research.  Two recent newsworthy breakthroughs have got me intrigued about our little friends who keep the Imodium flying off the shelves at the local pharmacy. 

First off, E. coli is being used to produce medicine.  Not just any medicine but antibiotics, most specifically erythromycin A.  This antibiotic very similar to penicillin, is used in patients who usually have an allergic reaction to penicillin.  But erythromycin A has 10 chiral, stereospecific carbons which makes this molecule really, really, REALLY, difficult to make synthetically.  Researchers at Tufts University have successfully produced erythromycin A and two other variants using E. coli.  The species which produced them is naturally found in soil and if this can be utilized, it can drastically cut cost, time, and energy to make such a vital antibiotic.  (BTW, the ability to more efficiently produce medicine, physically and financially, is essentially what I will be focusing my career on...so this is kind of a big deal!)

Next and probably way more interesting to the rest of the world is the new found storage capacity of E. coli.  Yes, I'm talking about storing your computer files, like pictures, movies, and files, in bacteria.  The DNA of the bacteria can be encoded using the for DNA bases to transform anything into a base-4 code.  What's better?  The "headers" and "footers" needed to incorporate the DNA into the bacteria can also act as the coded key for the data.  Thus, without the code for the key, the data remains almost un-crackable.  Bacteria offers almost the ultimate safe as it is the most resilient "thing" on the earth.  And it can reproduce to make countless copies of the data.  But the best advantage of the data storage is the amount.   900 terabytes can be stored on 1 gram of E. coli.  For perspective, a current 1.5 terabyte external hard drive weighs 1 kilogram.  That would be the equivalent of 900,000 terabytes of information or about 180,000,000,000 songs!  DAMN!  Even Xzibit cannot fit that many songs into a car on "Pimp My Ride." 

All in all, our little enemy is actually one of our biggest allies in both medicine and technology.  Every day, thousands of researchers are pouring countless hours on time into this one species.  So next time you hear someone badmouthing E. coli, think twice before disrespecting the little guys.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick Random Thoughts

My mind is scattered today so I have a few short tidbits for you all today...

1) NASA found "new" life.  It is actually a really, really, REALLY big deal.  NASA announced it today at a press conference that had people buzzing about alien life.  Basically these new microbes use arsenic instead of phosphorous.  This includes their DNA and ATP (or it should now be renamed ATA I guess).  They are found in the Mono Lake, California and it is quite the discovery.  Get a quick run-down here.

2) I finalized my class schedule for next semester and I will be taking three classes along with beginning lab research.  The classes include Physical Chemistry, Particle Design and Process, and Computational Chemistry.  Currently I am taking Statistical Models, Organic Spectroscopy, and Linear Algebra/Differential Equations.  I believe whatever my research is specifically it will have a much larger emphasis on mathematical modeling of solid systems, as that is something the Taylor Lab group wants to pursue.

3) I played Wallyball last night and as I was watching some NBA highlights earlier today I wondered what it would be like if instead of professional basketball, we watched, cheered for, and celebrated Wallyball teams.  That stuff is exciting and I think people would watch it.  Kind of like Slam Ball, where the heck did that sport go?

I hope this is enough to occupy your time for at least five minutes today.  I know it did for me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weather Proof Matches

I found this link and video to weather proof matches.  When I first read it, I thought they meant you could get the matches wet and they would still work.  Not the case, click to watch the video and see for yourself.

At one point he actually cleans off the wet dirt from the match and then it reignites.  I feel like that disrupts some law of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, or something.  This could also be a disaster waiting to happen at a drunken college party or redneck wedding.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meteorologist - Best Job Ever?

"Stormchasers" may be my favorite new show. I would love to get out there and chase those monster funnels that I could never attempt to stop or alter their path. If I ever become a billionaire, I will probably fund a stormchasing team (probably called Team Hammer) for kicks and giggles. The Dominator and TIV would be no match for my bat-mobile tornado chaser. Hey, I can dream can't I?

As I was walking the 20 minutes home from campus today, I realized that my light fleece jacket was not keeping me warm enough. Now, you might say, "Matthew, you're fault for taking the wrong jacket!" But, the weather app on my desktop this morning said the current temperature was 41 and that the high was 51. It lied. The temperature never got above 40. Now, what job could be cooler than one where you get to chase weather and be wrong 75% of the time? Check out this photo!
Is that a tornado or God's shower curtain?

Monday, November 29, 2010

All I Want For Christmas...

With December looming, and a new Christmas tree in my apartment, I can't help add a couple things to my holiday wish list. Besides new bed sheets, video games, and a new lamp I would really like a sports team that wins! Purdue sports is plagued by torn ACLs and blatant disrespect. I will continue to be a die-hard fan until then end, but I just want to catch one break as a fan. My patient with the media is wearing thin. Plus, my other football teams, the Colts and Boise State Broncos both are looking dim (well Boise State is still a damn good football team but any national title hopes have been demolished). The Reds gave me a good jolt in October by getting to the playoffs, but they made Philly look super human and honestly it was embarrassing to watch. And if the Pacers somehow make it into the playoffs and win the NBA finals because they did just beat LA, I might just give up sports all together. Actually I will never do that, but I will question the basketball Gods sense of humor in destroying Indiana college basketball (see Gordon's half-court shot, Robbie's torn ACL, and even the fact that IU has been one of the worst teams in the country lately) to watch a Pacer team full of overachievers win. It makes my brain hurt! Oh well.

Oh, and I would love a new Merck Index, too!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let's Get It Started (again)!

Well, well, well! It has been a while since I have posted anything, and all 3 of my followers have probably given up on this blog. However, I am back and have a mission. I will continue to give an inside look into my graduate school studies and the interesting people, places, and things I get to be involved with. But I will also publicize and promote anything science related that I deem interesting or significant.

One more thing, I will post a new writing every Sunday night (could be very early Monday morning) and I hope to get to the point where I post a paragraph or two every day. It is ambitious but I believe it is doable. So, let's get back to the grind...

Back in October, Purdue hosted the 8th Annual Peck Symposium. Named after the Emeritus Professor of Industrial Pharmacy at Purdue, Garnet E. Peck, the event highlights what's new and upcoming in the Pharmaceutical Industry. This year's event featured pediatric formulation advances and nanotechnology in drug delivery. Now, you can read the biographies and research of the presenter's here but I have a few notes of the conference that I took and thought would be interesting to share.

First, I am a naive, stupid little grad student. I know very little and also found myself to be way to ambitious about hearing what everyone had to say. There were 8 speakers who each gave 50 minute lectures on subjects well above my head, along with a formal lunch in the middle. I thought going into the event, "Oh, I can listen and take notes on interesting things throughout the day and could probably sneak out if I needed a break or two." Nope, there were just as many distinguished alumni and faculty as students and I found out really quickly that I was not prepared to sit through 8 hours of lecturing. The senior grad students lined the back of the room with their laptops while the other professors all had smart phones to occupy their time when the lectures got dry. I found myself sitting next to the department head of Purdue trying not to fall asleep, and I love this stuff! Oh well, I'll learn how to adapt to the environment.

Second, I slowly realized that I was surrounded by some of the best minds in the industry. Dr. Peck, of which the event was named for, has been around Industrial Pharmacy forever. He is the head of the lab class which I am a teaching assistant. He practically invented the idea of industrial and physical pharmacy (the name of my department at Purdue). Dr. Byrn, who was a speaker and I have taken a couple classes from in my undergraduate studies, was honored at lunch by have a volume of a Solid State Pharmaceutics Journal dedicated to him (only the second person to have this honor). Dr. Bryn is considered to be one of the father's of solid state chemistry analysis (which is the basis for my research in grad school). I feel I choose the right place to go to school for solid state research in industry. Oh, and congrats to Dr. Ei-ichi Negishi (pronounced "H. Na-gE-shE") who just won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and was one of the professors who helped develop the Spectroscopy course I am in currently.

All in all, I felt quite small in a field of which I used to feel fairly competent in. I aspire to one day be asked to speak at this symposium, because maybe then I will stay awake. As for now, I will begin my actual research in Dr. Taylor's group next semester. This semester I am finishing up some classes and I am a TA for a pharmaceutical processes course (students get to make acetaminophen tablets). I am working on a post outlining what my research will be geared toward soon, probably in the second installment of "Behind the Lab Bench!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Behind the (Lab) Bench

As I walked on campus the other day I recognized a few sports players (b.t.w. Ryan Kerrigan is huge), I wondered what life would be like if students and future professionals were treated like star athletes in the media. So, I will be profiling some of my academic and professional ventures in a series called Behind the (Lab) Bench. I like this idea because instead writing entries in a dull, to the point voice, I can allow everyone to see how my minds works within my academic and career goals. This week...Recruiting!

Author's note: I originally wrote this piece in first person but it sounded ridiculous. So I tried it in third person, and now it just sounds only a little smug.

Ok science fans, let's take a look at one of the up and coming recruits in the pharmaceutics world.
Matt Jackson is a Midwest Pharmaceutical Science recruit for the Boilers Industrial and
Physical Pharmacy (IPPH) department. Being one of five new recruits for Purdue this, he is the only one from the Midwest which bodes well for this class as the more diversity within the
lab, the more collaboration. Matt graduated from Purdue in May of 2010 and decided on Purdue over Kentucky, Northeastern, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Matt said this about his decision, "Besides the location being close to home, Purdue's experience in solid state chemistry and close relationship with pharmaceutical industry ultimately pushed Purdue over the edge for my decision." Matt's undergrad career involved some research in the IPPH department under Dr. Taylor resulting in both a poster symposium and a published paper.

But now we focus on Matt's upcoming decision on which lab he will choose. If you follow Purdue IPPH closely, you know that Dr. Taylor has solidified her place within the IPPH department with her research in amorphous drug properties. You should also know that there is a new IPPH department head in Dr. Topp. At first, it looked as though Matt was recruited to come work for Dr. Taylor but now it seems to be a two horse race. Now Matt has shown interest in amorphous research so let's look at the tale of the tape...
Both lab groups have some research in amorphous solids and thus the science world must wait on Matt's decision. He has scheduled visits to each lab in the next couple weeks and has met with both professor's about his decision. Also, the lab must also return the favor and accept him into their lab. So we will keep a close eye on this developing recruiting trail.

See, isn't that more fun?

(If you are interested in getting the "Behind the Bench" treatment, for any profession...just let me know and we can do a Special Edition of the series!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to the Bottom of the Totem Pole

(First I want to apologize, as I did not finish my "One Week" blog. I wrote about an half entry then got really busy and have decided to paraphrase...it was a crazy week!)
As anyone who cares to read this blog knows, I have just begun school...again! I am beginning my next academic chapter in pursuing my Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics. And for all the new opportunities it sure feels familiar. With every new step in our academic careers, we seem to follow a very similar outline for every chapter.
You begin each step by reviewing what you learned before (minus the Kindergarten stage because you know nothing then). In Jr. High, you take the first placement tests to see what classes you start in. High school is similar but it adds all the "tracks" to graduating; such as Core 40, Honors, AP, etc. College again is all about placement tests and tracks, but adds that entire new dimension of living on your own and trying to remember how your mom folded your clothes, kinda. Next everyone must accomplish a laundry list of menial tasks to provide a foundation to stand on. This includes book fees, medical records, driving records, signing your name so many times that you only remember to put the M and J on everything. And lastly, there is the whole concept of being at the bottom of the totem pole and having to work your way back up to the top.

Now, a part of me assumed that continuing onto Grad School, especially at the same University, I might be able to bypass these "steps." Incorrect! I have found myself feeling much like a freshman in college or high school again, even though I am a college graduate and I turning 23 next week. I have had to sign so many documents that my signature looks like Michael Jordan's without the 23. Next, I am in 5 classes, only one of which directly relates to Pharmaceutics, and that is Seminar. For those who don't know, seminar is one hour a week to go and listen to professors and industry professionals talk about whatever they want. My other classes include two math classes, a chemistry course, and a laboratory safety course which is taught by the real life Ms. Frizzle! I have gone from discussing solubility issues during production of drugs and working on the problems of tomorrow, to solving differential equations and drawing plots about the sales of automobiles for the 3rd or 4th or 5th time, I can't remember. Thus, my motivation has been slowed. Instead I am enjoying the little things in life to get me through the mundane times of being a newbie such as; Monday Night Football, 4th Meal, and Frisbee Golf.

So, I have found myself at the bottom of an even higher mountain at which I have to climb. I just hope I don't gain the freshman 15...again!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Been...One Week! (Part 1)

This last week was no special week for the world. There were no barbeque's or parties for some random holiday (like Flag Day). Nor was there a large sporting event. However, my last week was quite a page turner and had enough action to rival my entire July, nay my entire summer. I will summarize and hit the high points!

First, I finished my last shift at the dorms (haha I can say that now instead of Residence Halls) Friday afternoon. An exciting yet uneventful time because everyone else was is RA training at that time. Well, I spent the entire evening packing up and moving all of my things into my girlfriend, Heather's apartment and my parents van. I did not do this out of desire to be out of McCutcheon Hall but rather because I couldn't move into my new apartment until Sunday and BGR (Freshman Orientation Week at Purdue) move-in was Saturday and Sunday. Essentially I couldn't move out while 750 kids move in.

Thus, Friday and Saturday I spent at Heather's apartment with all of my stuff crammed into the living room. Granted it was a little easier considering Heather and her roommate Kristin weren't back to Purdue yet, but still I have a lot of crap! Saturday I recollected on BGR move-in and decided to check-in with my favorite pals at MCUT. Boy is it fun watching freshman move-in! It was a little sad to realize I was done with that part of my life but on the other hand I realize I am so ready to grow up and be on my own; no more "babysitting!" I wish the MCUT Staff and all RA Staffs the best this year and you have my full respect. Additionally if any RAs would like to come chill at my new place for a beer and time away from the hall, my door is still always open!

Well, finally Sunday rolled around and I got to move into my new place. My parents kindly came and helped me move my stuff again from Heather's to my place. For those keeping score at home that was my third such move in a month as I had to move all of my stuff to another room at MCUT before I moved out of there.

john mayer battle studies tour Pictures, Images and Photos

But to cap off the weekend, I met up with my beautiful girlfriend Heather in the 'Burg and we headed to the much anticipated John Mayer concert in Noblesville. Now, I really enjoyed the "show" Lady Gaga put on at Purdue and I look forward to the "concert" by Maroon 5 next month, but John Mayer put on the best performance I have ever seen. He just looked like he was up there with his best friends wanting to share his musical passion with everyone there. Heather and I agreed that there aren't very many (if any) John Mayer songs we don't like but he seemed to make each song better than the last. And I'll give props to Heather on calling the encore song "Half of my Heart" which was then melted into a great rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing!" The concert was worth that song alone and I really hope he makes a like album from this tour because he also did a mash-up of "Ain't No Sunshine." So if you ever get the chance to see him live, please do because it is an experience like no other. Oh yeah and we sat in like the 30th row, so we could actually see John rather than a video screen with him on it. Whatever...no big deal! ;-)

That weekend alone is enough to warrant some rest. Well no sir, graduate school orientation started Monday, not to mention I did not realize all the things needed to live on your own for the first time. I will continue with that in Part Two probably tomorrow! Take care!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving in a New Direction

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all 4 of my followers. The last month has not been that busy, I have just been scattered brained. You see, I am in the middle of a two part move from my dorm room to an apartment, and currently I am living mostly out of boxes. Now this has opened my eyes to a little frustrating game I like to call the "Moving Game!" I will explain.

Moving to a new place can be both exciting and exhausting.
The game part comes from what you find along the way. For example; I did not know that I had 8 co-axial cables, yet when I looked for ONE s-video cable yesterday in my "Electronics" box I could not find any. I also didn't realize that I have so many shirts...FROM HIGH SCHOOL. Now I have told myself that the best time to get rid of these is during the move (mistake). It is just time consuming and I have a hard time getting rid of that baseball jersey from 6th grade that I won the Whiteland Invitational Baseball Tourney in, not mention my State Finals marching band shirt.

Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I will be shifting the idea of this blog ever so slightly.
Originally, I was only going to make posts about scientific things or other topics pertaining to being a scientist. I would like to continue that while also allowing my family and friends to share in my experiences. So Mom, go ahead and send the link to this blog to anyone you want because this will be easier for me to keep in touch with people than a cheesy letter at Christmas. I'm not big on stationeries anyway.

So in the spirit of this new direction, here's what's new:

This week marks the last of my work in Residential Life at Purdue. And while it has been fun I am ready to have my weekends and nights back to myself. It's been a roller coaster last two years but I am ready to grow up! This weekend I will be attending my Grandparents 50th Wedding Anniversary! Congratulations to Dick and Jane Jackson! On the flip side, a friend told me that their grandparents 50th party was "off-the-chain!" Now I know that I won't be getting crunk at this celebration but it will be fun to finally drink a beer with my bro (it was his 21st birthday last month, congrats Adam). Oh and it's my other brother's birthday this week too...18th birthday! Porn, cigarettes, and lottery tickets, Hooray!!! Congrats, you mess up now you go to big boy jail!

The next week I finally move into my own place in West Lafayette. Feel free to stop by anytime when you're around town as I am always up for entertaining! And lastly, the same day I move into my new apartment my girl and I are headed to the John Mayer concert (I think we only wanted to see him now, for like 3-4 years...whatever). So yeah, the next couple weeks will be crazy awesome and I intend to follow this post up with a few entertaining stories. Until next time!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Competition and Character

Competition. It drives some to succeed while it drives others insane. Through all my activities I have seen every extreme of competition. There are those who could care less who wins or loses as long as they have fun. Then there are those who live and die on the outcome of every competitive venture. Personally, I am a very competitive person. I love to win and hate to lose. My close friends and family know this and see it most in sports that I play. Even board games are taken seriously when I am involved. I want to use this fire within to fuel more than just my desire to bring home a Ping Pong championship or Trivial Pursuit win. I want to win and be successful at everything I do. Failure is not an option. However, if one gets too involved in the competition, they will lose sight of the bigger picture. The solution...a balance of competition and character. You have to be willing to give up small victories so that together we may tackle the big ones. And the best place to learn this (I think) is Little League Baseball. Little League preaches three ideals; Character, Courage, and Loyalty. Having played coached and umpired little league games these values can easily be translated between the ball diamond and life goals. However I want to highlight Character. I always felt and preached as a coach to play the game the right way. I love to win, especially baseball, which means not cutting corners or giving up. Side note: there is not many better feelings than standing on a pitcher's mound 60' 6" away from a fellow ballplayer, knowing that you "own" them and there is no way they will get a hit off you. You here it in movies, but that feeling is dangerously awesome! And the same goes for being a hitter on a hot streak. The baseball looks like a beach ball and you feel invincible knowing that the pitcher can throw whatever he wants, your going to punch the ball right back at him.

But, I also take pride in losing the right way. You should always hold your head up high and give 110% even if your down by 10 runs. As a coach I rarely had any kids who didn't give it their all. My favorite team to have been a part of, player or coach, was my last year as a manager for 13-14 year old's. And after every game, we were still able to enjoy having played the game, regardless of the outcome. Winning the bigger battles was our main goal; not trash talking, hustling out every ground ball, having fun together, and thanking our parents for the opportunity to play baseball on that particular day. We finished the season 5-6 but we had fun every game. We scored A LOT of runs (11 per game) and gave up just as many (12 per game). Those kids just knew how to play the game right, keep their heads up and push through the hard times. And at no point did any of them succumb to cheating or giving up on a game. They showed how much character they really have and I admire that. I challenge any of you who read this to remember that team when your back is against the wall. Don't take the easy way out and never give up! There is always more pride in losing the "right way" than winning the "wrong way."
All in all, competition is good but your character will make you great. Being around the scientific community more and more allows me to notice the competition. As I meet new people, I can picture the little leaguer in all of them. Some would do anything to win, like stealing 2nd base when the pitcher is tying his shoe and forgot to ask for time out. And some would sacrifice whatever for the greater good, like carrying someone around the bases. I strive to surround myself with those genuine people who might give up a big paycheck in order to make a more meaningful contribution to society. Everyone can be destined to make a difference. You must be willing to compete against the struggles and allow your character to carry you to greatness.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The last month has again, been a whirlwind for me. I have not had an opportunity to focus on the specific scientific community but I am always keeping an ear to the ground. So, here are some of my latest "brain blasts" and possibly some future topics for full posts.

Private space flight had a big boost this month. SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9/Dragon Rocket. It achieved orbit which means we are less than 5 years from privatized space flight. Hey, if they need a pharmaceutical scientist on Mars...sign me up!

The iPhone 4G also was released this month. And I really wanted one...until I realized that Apple must only test their stuff with monkeys and mannequins. Between the iPhone's wi-fi not working for Steve Jobs at the release show and the "Death Grip" issues, I just cannot believe how they are still selling so many of these dang things. I mean seriously folks, it's like you've been brainwashed to think that shiny vampires and werewolves are cool! My conclusion, I believe Apple might become the Dell of phones. (You know because it was just released that Dell, who monopolized the business computer market for a solid 15 years after IBM, knowingly sold computers with a 97% failure rate on their motherboards, WTF?!) Well Droid, whatcha got?

I was given one more reason to despise soccer, thanks Team USA. Don't get me wrong, I cheered and celebrated as much as the next guy when we scored against Algeria but making a video of our reactions making it seem as though we just won the "Universe Cup" when all we really did was qualify for the next round...it's a little absurd. Oh and Megan Fox got married, bummer!

Lastly, check out this video of lightning hitting three buildings at the same time in Chicago...

Lightning strikes three of the tallest buildings in Chicago at the same time! from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.

Gorgeous power! The storms that have been rolling through the Midwest lately have been more dangerous than usually. I wasn't sure hail existed still because every time the weatherman claims there is golf hall size hail, all I ever see is down-pouring rain. But, I have seen hail twice in two weeks now and I am again a believer.

Coming soon (if you have an idea for a "scientific" post you want to see, please leave it in the comment section): BPPL, male birth control, why health statistics/studies can be good or bad, and possibly a Purdue sports outlook, because I can!

Oh, and here is my shout-out of the week. It was my girlfriend, Heather's 21st b-day last week! So Happy Birthday, love! :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"FINAL" Project

Unless you live under a rock in the middle of the desert, you by now know of the major oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. I am a little perplexed at everyone involved and how we cannot plug the darn thing. I understand that in the words of about everyone associated with BP and the US government, "It's complicated." But what I don't understand is that the US government and BP combined probably the the smartest Chemical and Environmental Engineers working on this problem. And the best they have come up with was to cut the opening a little bigger to fit a cap on it and hopefully collect as much oil as possible. Well, I heard this on the Daily Show (yes I know that it is comedy and probably blown out of proportion but it makes sense to me and should make you think)....
The oil leak is leaking anywhere from 10,000 to 90,000 barrels of oil a day. So if you spilt the difference you get 50,000 barrels of oil. Now BP said that cutting into the pipe will "temporarily increase flow up to 20%...so that's another 10,000 barrels of oil. So they cut the pipe and fit the cap. Success, kinda. The "cut" was not perfect and thus a seal could not be created, and not all the oil was being collected. BP then said it collected about 6,000 barrels of oil the first day of the cap. Now I am no mathematician but I believe that if the leak was increased to 60,000 barrels a day and you are only collecting 6,000 barrels; you actually increased the leak by 4,000 barrels a day. Does anybody else's brain hurt? Well again, this is probably exaggerated and taken out of context but it is interesting and frustrating trying to figure out the actually strategy to fix it (and BP just recently stated on their website that they are obtaining about 25,000 barrels a day).

Now after all my rambling, I do have a solution. The best way to solve problems, especially one's where there could be multiple answers and need to involve many different aspects, is to give it to students. Tell all the engineering students at the top engineering schools that they must "solve" this crisis as their engineering final to graduate. That motivation is so great, and the ideas are so raw that it would more than certainly work. The students would work in teams pulling an "All-weeker" (that's the week form of an all-nighter) and hand in a spotless proposal Monday morning after drinking enough coffee to kill a small elephant and eating enough cold pizza to freak out your mom, and still finding time to play a few rounds of beer pong Saturday night while their computers were recharging. My assumption is that the people currently working on this project have tunnel vision and have no capacity to see problems before they happen (like a machine freezing up in water that is essentially below freezing! DUH! - and I can explain that in another post if anybody wants me too). College seniors that have worked on unsolvable problems for four years would gladly take the opportunity to show up the big time companies and fix the problems. I even believe that Purdue's own Rube Goldberg Team (pictured below) could solve this problem in fewer attempts!

In all seriousness, it is a terrible catastrophe and we must all do our part to help fix this and prevent future disasters. Let's just hope that BP comes to it's senses and asks for help from someone!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Best Condom Advertising Ever

WARNING - Reader Discretion is Advised!

Alright. So my close friends know that my mom used to be a sex education teacher (and that she taught it at my high school). And some of you also know that I even put on a Sex and Sundaes Program about sex education, at Purdue for freshmen....with my mom. Thus, I have some pretty strong opinions about sex education. For example, I believe that abstinence only sex education programs are completely the wrong approach within public school systems. They might work for churches, private schools, and home schools but to the broad spectrum of teens, they need to be taught EVERYTHING! Not teaching teens about STDs (or the newly accepted STIs, sexually transmitted infections), not teaching kids about birth control, and not teaching kids about the consequences of sex is depriving kids of vital information. It's like teaching math to 2nd graders by giving them a calculator but not telling them what all the symbols on the calculator mean (so they press all the buttons and eventually delete your version of Frogger and Tetris on your graphing calculator, damn!).

To add to my strong feelings, pharmacy school preaches to young pharmacists to help teach young people about the products available for safe sex. So I have seen ever disgusting, raunchy, crazy, glow-in-the-dark ad campaign there is. However, I believe that Durex now holds the world's best condom advertisement campaign with their new iPhone app. Check it out--

Durex Baby from Peter Ammentorp Lund on Vimeo.

So all you iPhone users out their...practice safe iPhone sex!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Golf - The Love/Hate Relationship

As summer kicks up the heat, many people push their golf games into full gear. Golf courses around the U.S. begin twilight hours and tournaments to entice people of all skill levels to play. Now I have been playing golf since I was 14, and I have been keeping score since I was 17. This morning I posted my best 18-hole round on a championship style course. I shot an 88 at Ackerman Hills at Purdue and recorded my first birdie of the year (which is really late in the year since I have been playing at least once a week since March, shooting around bogey golf each time). That inspired me to explain my profound love/hate relationship I have with golf that I believe many people share.

For the past two weeks I was completely frustrated at my golf game. My driver was continuing to slice and only go about 150 yards off the tee. That forced me to play par 4 holes like par 5 holes, reaching the green in 3 shots (at least). On top of that, I have been struggling with the putter. However, my irons and short game have been my saving grace keeping me right above bogey golf. But today, everything clicked. I made some putts, including a 15 footer off the fringe for my birdie. The driver still sliced a bit but I controlled it, and I was finally getting 230-250 yards off the tee. And I went birdie, par, par, bogey, bogey on the par 3's which is where I seem to add extra strokes which kill my score.

Thus my love/hate relationship. I have been posting scores around 90 for almost a year now, and today I posted my lowest score yet with an 88. Yet I feel I shot way better today than I ever have before. I am trying to come up with an explanation. I believe I have reached a point in my golf game where unless I make a few more incredible shots, I will score the same whether I hit the green in two and three putt from 55 feet or use four crappy shots and save a bogey with a 10 foot putt. My friend Jason came to golf with me today and at least twice today we tied on holes where I smashed a drive 230 yards and then reached next to the green on my second shot. He might have shanked his drive and second shot, but recovered with a decent wedge and made a nice putt while I made a bad chip or missed a putt, we tied the hole with 5s or 6s. He even said to me once, "Did we really just tie that hole?!" Now I have golfed with Jason for about 5 years now, including on Team Boley for the belt (Drew and Zach, we still carry the belt, FYI!) and we have been pretty even for the most part, with myself usually taking honors home by a few strokes. His rusty 115 today proved that I am doing something right but still, I just cannot get over the hump for that really awesome round.

Of course, I have progressively been playing on better and better courses. I have finally graduated from the sandy greens of White Lick in Brownsburg and flooded fairways of Pittsburo and into the championship courses at Purdue, Twin Bridges of Danville, and other local public country clubs around West Lafayette. Even my "practice course" (the course I pay $10 dollars to play 18 holes on with the student discount), Lafayette Municipal Course, hosts many events throughout the summer and is home to high school competitions almost every week.

To wrap up, there is almost no better feeling than standing on a tee box overlooking a lake and beautiful par 5 fairway in early morning when the air is crisp and the cart is full of chewy granola bars and ice cold Gatorade.
And there is almost no worse feeling than hitting your divot farther than your shot while your "friends" drink the last of your beer and you are getting burnt to a crisp in 95 degree heat, while the players behind your laugh and curse at you for being so bad and so slow. And thus golf is the epitome of love/hate relationships, for me! I will continue to play as I love the preparation and the anticipation of playing, and I will continue to be dumbfounded after rounds when I play poorly and still score well, and vise versa. But I will continue to stand by my statement I made 5 years ago, "The moment I buy golf shoes, is the moment I have to take golf seriously!" So until then, I love you golf!

(Note: when I mention best feeling or worst feeling or epitome of love/hate relationships, of course I mean in perspective. This post is only regarding hobbies and interests which have little to no actual life changing aspects.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Knowledge is Power?

Wow! So the last couple of weeks have literally flown. I had graduation, bachelor party, grad open house, L'ville trip, wedding rehersal, wedding, and finally summer training. And those are my excuses for not posting. But all those activities and travels have led me to a new thought....is Knowledge really Power?

I ask that question because in the last couple of weeks I have been conversing with a wide range of people (family, close friends, old friends, new friends, other summer employees in housing, etc). And I have found that everywhere I go I encounter two major thoughts.

The first is the paranoia that comes with knowing too much medical background. The best way to describe this is through a specific example. Strep throat. Everybody has had strep throat at one time or another. We go to the doctor, they gag us with their ten inch q-tip, and then make us wait for 5 hours to tell us that our extremely inflamed throat is in fact strep. What scares me is knowing that if left untreated too long we can develop antibodies against strep throat which also attack our own heart valves. (Congrats you just got a small dose of paranoia!) This may seem small but things like this run through my mind every time anyone around me has any medical condition. Yes, I overreact some, but I would rather call the paramedics for indigestion than be giving CPR to a dead friend (that's a heart attack for those of you who may not know that the two can feel very similar). Honestly, I can live with the paranoia. But...

The second thought is the arrogance of people and their own health. I personally got into pharmaceuticals to help as many people as possible. What bothers me is when I hear a friend or family member talking about what fish oils they are taking or what new medical test they just had done. Even though I only have a degree in pharmaceutical sciences, I understand that 90% of what all people do for their health is incorrect or futile. The amount of supplements and personal remedies that everyone claims should work for everyone is ridiculous. We are all different and our bodies need and react to different things. Yet, trying to hold a reasonable conversation with these people about this is not going to happen because "I'm not a doctor," or "they read it in a magazine or saw it on The Dr's so it must be true!" It is utterly frustrating. I do not go on power trips or like to belittle people with my knowledge. Yet, most of the time trying to discuss people's health ends in arguing. I don't know why that is but it may come from egos clashing or our innate sense to always be right. Whatever the case, the best way for me (and all of us) to learn is by discussing things openly and admitting to being wrong now and again. Trust me, I am wrong a lot!

A professor gave me some good advice this year and I totally agree. He said, "the more you study and learn, the less you know." Basically, as we grow and learn about more concepts, we discover more things that we do not know about. And I don't know a lot. I am excited to continue my studies in the fall, but I know that with more knowledge comes more paranoia and more frustration. So I ask if you get one thing from this post it is that we live in the information era, but that doesn't mean we know more. Magazines, books, the internet, TV shows all embellish the truth and you should take everything with a grain of salt until you speak with a medical professional. So Knowledge is Power, but true knowledge comes from perspective and attitude.

I would also like to give a shout out to my good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn and Anne Pratt. Your wedding was awesome and I am forever grateful to have been a part of it. Best wishes!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Full Circle

So, normally I will not make posts so close together but under certain circumstances, I will. For example, I have been working on a Senior project/paper for my Advanced Biopharmaceutics class for about month before I presented today. It dealt with Oral Lymphatic Drug Delivery. Now I know that the casual reader may not understand that but one aspect of that area is using medications to activate our immune system to fight cancer. Now up until today (the day of my presentation) there were no drugs on the market that do this. We have been fighting cancer by either prevention, surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. But today that changed. TODAY, that changed! The FDA approved a new drug, Provenge, to treat prostate cancer by activating a person's own immune system to attack the cancer cells. This is revolutionary. I mean this could quite possibly be the largest breakthrough in cancer treatment, EVER! Now it is a little early to be able to understand the impact on our entire fight against cancer, but this is truly promising, and I saw it coming! Now I am not taking credit but it is finally nice to see my academic efforts pay off a little.

The reason I feel obligated to post right now is because my presentation (along with a friend of mine, Thomas) dealt with this type of therapy exactly. And both of us, along with our professor, agreed that no treatment existed like this and that we hope that companies and researchers alike would be able to capitalize on it. Talk about coming full circle. As the science nerd that I am, this is really, really, REALLY exciting! Actually, I am a little bummed that I am not a part of that first group of people getting Provenge approved, but it opens the door for many new therapies of cancers and potentially other severe diseases, like HIV. It truly is a great day for medicine!

Here is an additional link posting in September of 2009, describing the mechanism for these drugs a little better. And if you don't believe me about my presentation, I can send it to you if you want...just let me know!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Return to the Promise Land?

As my senior year of college comes to a close, I realize that even though I continued to play sports I have no real athletic accomplishments. In grade school, I was on a championship soccer team (actually I believe my younger brother Adam scored 2 goals to my 1 in the championship game, and like 20 to my 3 all season but whatever), a championship and runner-up little league baseball team, and even a runner-up basketball team. In high school I was a freshman when the baseball team went to state, won two district titles playing Big League baseball, and played in the state tournament twice for the district team. Not to mention the intramural basketball team of "Team 4.0" beating the likes of 3 former varsity basketball players (and a couple of other guys we didn't care too much for) in a game where I sprained my ankle in the first 10 minutes. By the way, "Team 4.0" referred to the fact the everyone on the team had a 4.0 GPA. This also doesn't include having friends play in the Little League World Series, State Baseball Championships, and cheering on my brothers success (Adam in travel soccer and basketball tourneys, Jacob in State rugby championships and travel baseball). And those of you who consider competitive marching band as a sport like I do, we went to State my freshman year and came within one out of step clarinet player away from State my senior year. Overall, I was highly involved in athletics, WINNING athletics! Oh, and none of that includes the dynasty of ping pong known as the BPPL (there will be a post about this soon).

But in college, I have had no real connections with any players on any significant teams. So I turn to intramural sports, and I have NO intramural championships. Four years of basketball and football have only produced one quarterfinal football appearance. I have tried table tennis and racquetball but neither remotely panned out. I reluctantly tried co-ed softball last year with a group of girls that had previously won the Women's division, but evidently mixing with some guys produced a team who went 0-4. But maybe...just maybe...I can see a return to the promise land. Tonight, my Men's softball team played in the final four and was just two games away from that elusive intramural championship. And this is not some B-league or dorm league...it's the Men's Open league with literally only one rule-"You must go to Purdue." My team, Taco Tuesdays, was 6-0 and has outscored our opponents 67-19. And our pitcher has the nastiest knuckleball, IN SLOWPITCH SOFTBALL!

Now, me even thinking about posting this entry jinxed it as we lost 8-7. We actually rallied in the top half of the last inning to score 5 runs and go up 7-6. However, the other team hit a walk-off 2 run HR. Oh so close!
But I see the potential. This same team of pretty athletic guys has only one senior that I know of, ME! And with me returning in the fall for graduate school we will have at least one more run at the softball (and football) titles. Granted I play 2nd base and hit anywhere from 6th to last in the line-up, but I could care less. If you didn't know already, I hate to lose...at anything. Mariokart, basketball, Trivial Pursuit, paper football, Chuzzle Deluxe, Bananagrams, you name I want to win it. Now, I understand that as I get further and further into the realm of science my athletic career will continue to diminish (except for maybe table tennis which again will be another post). So here's to hoping for one final return to the podium and to winning that elusive intramural championship!

Oh here is a funny clip I found of a
baseball rain delay...I do miss hanging out on a baseball field, so a sandy intramural softball field will have to do!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Beginning

With all great endeavors there must be a beginning. For those of you who know me, you know I am not much of a writer. I enjoy conversation, but as I enter into the world of graduate studies (which I'll get to in a minute), I found that I wanted to give blogging a try. The plan for this blog is for me to allow a window into my world as a young pharmaceutical scientist. I also envision this blog to be a spot where family and friends can keep up to date with my life along with anybody wanting to pass the time reading about anything from new FDA regulations to new cars to how good the Purdue basketball team will be next year. There are no given themes or topics to this blog. The content will solely depend on whatever is on my mind at the time and what events are occurring around the time of writing. Ultimately, I hope to release weekly (or even biweekly) posts but for now it will be on a "free time" basis. So let's bring everyone up to speed.

My name is Matt Jackson and I am currently finishing my Senior year at Purdue University. I am majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences and have been accepting into the Ph.D. program at Purdue starting in the fall of 2010. I have lived in Indiana my entire life but I want to move outside of the Midwest at some point in my life. Currently, I am the Staff Resident (RA to the RAs) at McCutcheon Hall and until my employment is up at the end of the semester that is all I will say about that (other than I am very fortunate to have been a part of the McCutcheon Residential Life Staff team).

I think putting my goals into perspective will aid in the directionality of this blog and ultimately will decide if any of you readers actually care enough to follow me. I am fascinated by science and particularly pharmaceutical science. My dream is to one day own my own Pharmaceutical company which may or may not make it big because it would be run differently than any other drug company. In my experience, marketing people dictate what scientists can and cannot do, and that must change. It cannot always be about making money as it should be about helping people. But enough of me on a soapbox...

I am not trying to make people laugh or to upset anybody. I am simply in need of a way to further my writing skills while hopefully making a few people slow down and think now and then. Overall I am an optimistic person which wishes nothing but the best for everyone. However, I also believe you get what you deserve. I have no intentions of making it big like my high school classmate Mark did with Club Trillion. I just want to show people what I think and as I may get further away from friends and family, this seems to be the logical next step.

I'll end with a quick thought...it was reported today that the fastest internet speeds are found in college towns. I just wonder if Drew remembers the days of "56K modems" like I do?