Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Year in Review

Merry Christmas!
No worries, I'm still alive!  But seriously, I'm sorry I haven't posted anything lately.  With the end of the semester, finals, projects, and life I have been quite busy since Thanksgiving.  I feel like I blinked and it is five days until Christmas!  And to top it off, a lot as come forward in the name of science and news not to mention just the normal current events.  I have a folder of links to items that either I find really fascinating or I feel could use discussion.  But I feel with the end of the year I should give a little perspective on this past year.  It will probably be more of a personal review than that of big events but we will see where it takes us (it's kinda like a Christmas letter from me to you without the hassle of buying a whole bunch of cheesy Christmas cards with puppies in Santa hats on them).

The beginning of 2011 brought about changes much like the beginning of any new year seems to do.  It is ironic that just changing the number we associate with the year can cause such dramatic changes in life because of our symbiotic relationship with time.  I was beginning my second semester of graduate school and looking forward to enjoying a few more months of college with some of my best friends.  Now life doesn't always work out the way you think but in the end I believe everything happens for a reason.  I struggled with moving on in my life without my close friends always by my side.  But I am so proud to be friends with each and every one of you in our unique relationships!  The rest of the spring was a typical school semester with finals and the normal ups and downs of school.

The SC wolfpack!
The summer however is where I believe 2011, for me, began to take an identity for itself.  It began with possibly the best trip I have every taken with a few of my closest friends.  Spending a week on the beach in South Carolina, literally shooting the breeze (it was really windy all week) was amazing.  Thank you goes to my grandparents who set us up with the awesome condo next to the beach.  It was a very fitting way to  bookend that chapter of our lives!

Once back from the vacation, I began the summer at Purdue working on research.  I was able to really get my hands dirty for the first time and begin interacting with other students and professors in the lab.  I essentially used the summer to gain momentum towards my work in the next few years; learning my way around the lab and how the system works so I can just focus on the science of it now.  Outside of lab, I spent the summer trying to find my new identity.  I was at a crossroads in my life, a quarter-life crisis if you will. And so I made it a mission to challenge myself in every way I could think of.  Socially, physically, mentally, I spent the summer stepping outside of my comfort zone and I can honestly say that I have grown as a person since then.  Life isn't always easy or perfect, but understanding the big picture is important and I am much more confident person because of it. Between destroying "Droids" with the guys from MCUT to running around the state of Indiana with my pharm friends, I had a ton a fun with friends old and new!  I challenge you reading this to step outside your comfort zone at least in the coming days.  It doesn't have to be a large step but do something you normally wouldn't.  For example, go visit a friend in another city on a whim with no set agenda or arrangements; or try a new cuisine with co-worker who you haven't connected with yet. Obviously anything that you feel is outside your comfort zone will work those are just a couple examples of the many things I did this summer. Remember, you only get one life to live so you should do the things you want, be with the people you want, and be where you want to be! Don't wait for tomorrow!

Tough Mudder team!  You all are so awesome!!! Hoorah!
The momentum of the summer literally threw me into the fall school semester.  I began following a friend around the state as he expanded his stand-up comedy routine.  That is a totally new scene for me and I appreciate the opportunity to be a very small part of that.  It gives me a sense of perspective from my sheltered lab life.  Tailgating and weekend excursions seem to highlight my fall.  Can I say that I didn't make mistakes during the fall?  Absolutely not!  But you learn the most from mistakes and failures.  In all areas of my life I have learned a lot about myself and carried those experiences, good or bad, with me everyday.  Oh and let's not forget the 4 month adventure that was training for Tough Mudder!  I hope anyone who wants to see what they are made of as a person has the guts to try TM, goes for it.  I truly believe anyone can succeed if you put your mind (and body) to it!

Overall, I enter the holiday season with a new perspective on life and myself.  I am far from perfect (not that I thought I was before) but understanding this concept has led me to develop my confidence and expand my horizons.  The take home message from this post is that in the course of a year, I have been on a roller coaster of emotions and experiences.  But if you can open your heart, you can come out the other side with a smile and know that you are living life to the fullest.  You can do anything you put your mind to!

Writer's Note - Obviously I couldn't fill in all my 2011 experiences into this post as it would get unwieldy.  But I promise if you want to trade stories about your year I'd be happy to tell you about the rest of the shenanigans and professional experiences that I had this year! (Evil Laugh Here)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

End of an Era - Lipitor goes off Patent

This is a great snapshot of the pharmaceutical industry. And it's the end of the reign of Lipitor as the best selling drug in the world! I will probably go into more detail about this situation soon but for now this will have to do.

Why There Will Never Be Another Drug Like Lipitor - Forbes:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Real Quick

Hey all, I just wanted to get a few quick things out there...

-First, if anyone is at all interested in running the Tough Mudder Indiana in March please let me know and we can get a team together.  I am about 75% sure I want to run it again (left knee and right foot need to heal).  

-Second, Bryan I have started on a post about the "next big thing" in pharmaceuticals and I hope to get to that political question before Christmas.  And Aaron, fire is a little trickery than pudding but I'm working on it.

-Lastly, anyone who wants to do a little shout-out exchange for their blog let me know.  I will gladly give a plug for someone's site in return for a shameless plug towards mine.  Honestly, I see no shame in that!

I'll leave you with a link to the Layover by Mike Posner.  It's a pretty sweet mixtape with some original stuff and some awesome remixes (like Rolling in the Deep and Rocket Man).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday Fragments (11/25/11)

Thanksgiving is upon us and I for am thankful for a few days of rest and relaxation.  Here are some interesting links for you to check out on this Black Friday..

-First, I want a pair of these blinds in my office and in our lab, considering neither of them have windows.

I suggest something like this for your
friends that remind you of characters
from "The Big Bang Theory" show.
-If you know someone in your family that is either a science nerd (like myself) or a sci-fi geek check out io9.com's gift guide.  I particular like the books section (hint hint)!

-In France, doctors have successfully bone marrow to create new blood and give a transfusion to another person.  It's a matter of time before blood drives will be obsolete and we can just grow blood for people.

-Chances are that you are reading this from a computer (or phone) that has a dual-core processor. Maybe even a quad-core and six-core machine if you are an avid computer builder.  But now AMD has outdone itself with it's new beast of a processor with 16-cores!  I can't wait to play 16 simultaneous games of Peggle!

-Scientists have put out a new APB for a giant gas planet missing from our solar system.  New calculations suggest that we may have lost a gas giant to the universe early in the development of our solar system.  So anyone with information leading to the safe return of this giant planet please contact NASA for a job so that you may utilize your talents appropriately.

-I've mention spray on skin but this is truly innovative.  Take a healthy sample, give it 20 minutes and presto...new skin to spray on to the patient!

-Lastly, I want a pair of these contacts.  They come with a built in LED "interface."  Sure it's just one light that blinks right now but soon it will be the internet controlled by your brain!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ask a Scientist: Is Pudding a Solid or Liquid?

For the first installment of "Ask a Scientist," I will diving into the world of pudding.  But first...
Pudding takes the shape of it's container so it must be a
liquid, right?

I went back and read my original "Ask a Scientist" post and I wanted to clear something up first.  I never intended for the post to sound arrogant or snobby.  My only intention was to try to find some new interesting subjects to look into and write an informative post on them.  I am not saying that I know all the answers or that I am a genius.  I just enjoy researching all kinds of science and I also love to share fun science (such as quantum locking)!  So without further delay, let's get back to pudding.  Which is an awesome topic to discuss!

So is pudding a solid or liquid?  Short answer, it is a liquid.  Long answer, it is hydrocolloidial gel.  I'll explain...

Milk is another example of a colloid,
because the solid fat molecules are
dispersed in the water of milk.
Short answer; if we look at pudding like we were in grade school again and try and determine it's state of matter we would classify it as a liquid.  It has no definitive shape (it takes the shape of the container it is in) but it will not diffuse out of an open container.  So by all accounts it is a liquid.

Long answer; when making pudding there are essentially two phases that make up the pudding.  The first is the powder mix (or raw ingredients if you happen to be a grandma or Paula Dean) that consists of a starch, sugar, flavorings, colorings, and probably some preservatives.  This comes in the form a of solid powder.  Then we have the liquid phase, usually water or milk (which is essentially water for our purposes here).  Now when these two phases are combined and are not completely miscible they form a colloid.  Miscibility is the ability for two things to coexist as one medium (like when you dissolve sugar in warm tea to make sweet tea).  Colloids are when one phase is dispersed within another phase.

Pudding is the same state of matter as hair gel!
A liquid dispersed within a solid.

Here, the main two ingredients that determine the overall state of matter for pudding is starch and water.  Because starches have variable molecular weights and consist of chains of sugars, they tend to form amorphous solids, solids without a definite crystal structure and have a little liquid like properties.  Once the water is dispersed within the amorphous solid of the starch, this increases the liquid like properties overall.  This type of colliod is called a hydrocolloid because it specifically uses water.  Lastly, this is considered a gel because the water is dispersed within the solid.  So thus the hydrocolloidial gel!  Which is actually more like a solid.

So to answer the question is pudding a solid or liquid, it is both!  I hope that helps and you can impress your friends at your Christmas parties!  Thanks melpels for the question!

PS - Tapioca pudding is the easiest example of this hydrocolloidial gel that is both a solid and liquid, because there are literal chunks in that pudding, ugh.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tough Mudder: Making the most of my Sunday!

How did your weekend go?  I spent Sunday romping through 10 miles of mud, fire, ice, water, rocks, swamps, and obstacles with a few other crazy people at a little event called Tough Mudder.  If you haven't heard of it, click this link to watch a quick video and then come back to reading this entry.

First and foremost I want to say I am so very proud to have the teammates that I had for Tough Mudder.  The Perpetual Motion Squad as we were called really came together to finish the event and I could not have done it without you all.  So congratulations goes out to my fellow teammates; Glenn, Hillary, Beth, Anne, and Jenny! And a special shoutout to our cheering section Hiba and Annie who followed us around and took pictures while we "played" in the mud.  Next, a huge pat of the back goes out to all my fellow Tough Mudders from Indiana this weekend.  That course was grueling and the sportsmanship and camaraderie that was exhibited was the best I'd had ever been a part of!  I definitely can't wait to do this again because of all of you who participated or helped with the Tough Mudder event.

Now, I have been training for this even for a little over 4 months and many of my friends and family knew that I was going to be participating in the TM. I want to thank all of you who supported me through training and you know who you are!  But for all of you who laughed at me or doubted me at all, I want to say a big thanks to you!  Without the motivation to prove you wrong and silence the naysayers, I don't know if I would have completed even the training for the event let alone the TM course itself.  It was the fuel to my fire! It was by far the hardest physical and mental event I have ever been a part of and I so proud of myself that no one can say or do anything to take this feeling of accomplishment away from me.  So again I say thank you to all that both supported me and doubted me because you all helped in one way or another.

As for the course itself, I conquered some of my own fears throughout the duration of the day.  Some of the obstacles included; jumping off a 15 foot platform into a freezing lake and swimming over a 100 yards with all our muddy clothes on, climbing under barbed wire in the mud, scaling 10 foot walls with nothing be my teammates, traipsing through mud that was waist high, a mile of running in a creek, climbing up one side and down the other of a 15 foot cargo net, running through fire, crawling through ice well barbed wire was over top of you and it was set to electrocute you if you touched it, the worst monkeys of your life, and finally running through hundreds of live wires set to hit you with 10,000 volts while you jumped over hay bails.  Now that is only about half of the obstacles not to mention we covered 10 miles throughout the race.  My knees are pretty banged up but otherwise I made it out alright.

All in all, TM was one of the most exhilarating events I have ever been a part of and I really cannot wait to do it again!  And I say to all of you who don't think you could do this to go out there, get off your butt, and do something with your life!  Whether it is a Tough Mudder or finishing that college degree, you can do anything you put your mind to!  I was able to use this event to motivate myself into getting back my confidence in myself and now I know without a doubt that I can achieve anything I set my mind to! 

Can I get a Hoorah?  HOORAH!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

Recently I haven't had any passionate subjects to discuss on my blog here and today I find myself altering the layout of the blog instead of trying to write something.  I could chime in on the Penn State scandal but I am kind of tired of hearing about it.  And I could talk about how I am glad that college basketball is back or how Purdue beat OSU for the second straight time at home, both resulting in the students rushing the field. For the record, I was not a fan of us rushing the field this time.  Come on people, act you have been there before!  But neither of those would be thought provoking and insightful, which is what I am striving for.

I have recently posted about my friends and about my career, both of which seem to occupy a lot of my spare thoughts. I think that's understandable at this point in my life.  And I have tried to keep up with posting Friday Fragments for those of you who get your science fix from me on Fridays (I have few cool links already for this Friday).  

I figured this was appropriate because it is no-shave
November and my face looks a lot like his does!
But no, I do not own any purple pants like that.
My Under the Hood series is kind of on hold as I was going to write a piece about LLPS, liquid-liquid phase separation, but we are looking at some novel theories in our lab and I don't want to compromise the integrity of that research until I have a better grip on the subject.  And I'm not sure how I feel about my Behind the Bench series at the moment (Jeremy your post was great, I have other reasons).  There are a couple big political topics regarding science that are coming to front, such as the increase in the NSF budget for next year (HELL YEAH).  Or how people here at Purdue tried to allow students to carry concealed weapons, seriously?! But if you know me at all, I am not a fan of politics because of the partisanship that accompanies it.  If we were able to intelligent debates where both sides are open minded and respectful, I'd be first in line to jump into politics but for some reason people allow broad mindsets to dictate all their responses.  

So I am kind of in a low point for the blog.  I have nothing particularly interesting to write about and with the semester coming to a close, we have finals and the holidays which put a damper on research.  And even though when I have opened up this blog to "audience participation" I haven't gotten much of a response, I am going to try something new...

"Ask the (future) Scientist" will be your opportunity to ask me any question regarding pharmaceuticals, physics, chemistry, biology, math, etc.  Even if I am not an expert in a topic, I would love to do a little background learning and put together a few posts regarding anything your heart desires!  These topics can be as simple as What is a neutrino? or Why is blood red? to ask specific and complicated as What do new brand drugs cost so much more than generic? or How does quantum locking work? 

So leave you questions in the comments section or email them to me at pharmjack29@gmail.com and we will see how this goes. If all else fails, I am pretty sure my mom will have some sort question to get us started!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fragments (11/4/11)

Alright, no screwing around! Here are some fragments to get you through the afternoon...

-A study out of Yale University has mathematically shown that there is such a thing as a "hot hand" in basketball (or as NBA JAM won't put it, "He's on FIRE!!!").  They don't have any proposed mechanisms per say but they have uncovered some statistically significant results from years of NBA data.  Although anyone who has played basketball, or any sport for that matter, can tell you there are times when you are just in the zone. I tend to get that way for table tennis but that's another story.  Here's a summary of the study, rather than the actual research paper.

-1996...I was 9 years old and the internet was still very young too. I remember going to the computer lab to work on bulky PCs and even a few MACs, using programs like Creative Writer and Oregon Trail 2.  I happened to stumble upon this pro/con list of the internet circa 1996.  Sadly, much hasn't changed!

-I really like this footage from the moon taken in 1971 that proves Galileo was right about gravity.  Watch the video below to see a hammer and a feather fall at the same rate.


-Here is a list of 10 common food myths.  I particularly like the one about tryptophan and I cannot wait to challenge this answer in Trivial Pursuit (I'm looking at you, Mom).

-And lastly, stem cell research took a small step forward recently.  Scientists were able to produce stem cells from an unfertilized egg using someone else's DNA.  However (there's always a catch) they had to leave the native DNA in the egg as well which produce essentially worthless stem cells, as the donor would reject the stem cells for having some native properties.  But it is a step in the right direction, and for those who are sensitive about the whole embryonic stem cell debate, this is a good step in the right direction.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"So what do you want to do with your degree?"

I get asked that question a lot. Rightfully so since when all is said and done I will have spent 9+ years at Purdue studying pharmaceutics (I'm on year 6 for those of you keeping score at home).  Well it turns out I have a very specific answer to that question..."I have no frickin' clue!"

Usually I will give a nice overview of my options and explain that during the course of my grad work I hope to be persuaded toward a specific career track.  Let's look at the options, shall we?

-Industry.  This is biggest and most obvious answer. Within Industry there are many paths such as big pharma companies, small pharma companies, consulting, clinical trials, and sales.  Now if I am to go into Industry I believe I would want to work as a Senior Scientist in R&D but honestly at a certain point, any job within the field works for me.

-Academia.  Get a post-doctorate position at a University, then apply to become a professor and continue up the academic chain.  I really enjoy teaching and I believe I will end up here someday.  However, I also believe that the best teachers have some industry/real life experience with pharma companies and I would want that experience as well.

-More school.  Yes, believe it or not I have not ruled out the possibility of more school. Most likely Law School to work on patent law with pharmaceuticals, but I wouldn't rule out Med School either (in order to be the top dog of a pharma company, a Ph.D. and M.D. are almost always required).  This could be in the form of night school while at a job or a mid-life go back to school "crisis."  Regardless, it will be an option for me until I figure out what to do.

All that said, I have really only realized one thing since starting grad school.  That is, I am way to interested in so many other things that I can guarantee that I will not get a position right out of school and keep it forever.  I enjoy trying new things and exploring areas which I may not be the most suited for (example is the comedy scene that I have been following my friend John around in for the last couple months, as I am not really that strong in the Arts...shout out to him, good luck at the Michiana Contest this weekend)!

Moral of the story, you could ask me, "So what do you want to do with your degree?" every time you see me and I will probably give a different answer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friends Forever

Halloween...probably one of the "craziest" times of the year between parties, costumes, haunted houses, movies, and trick or treating.  However, I attended the 6th Homestead Horror Halloween Party at the Pratt Manor over the weekend.  Mr. Glenn Pratt has been throwing the best theme parties since we were 15 years old and here we are 9 years later and he still has the gusto to put together an awesome Halloween party (this year's theme - The Nightmare Before Christmas).  

This party felt a little different though. It was almost like a little high school reunion.  Even if there were only about 15 people there, we spent the better part of the party talking about what we all were up to, and who we had run into. I really enjoyed catching up with a few old friends that I hadn't talked to in a while and it was really nice to see how everyone has gone on to bigger and better things from high school.  The range of the "success" ranged from law school to logistics to grad school to moving out to LA for movie producing.  

As I drove back to West Lafayette the next day, I began to reflect on how far we had all come from those first few parties.  There were things we were so sure of during high school that have gone by the way side and there were things that we were spot on about as well.  It really got me thinking the most about the relationships we form.  Those people who really care about you genuinely want to know how you are doing (even if they shroud it by saying that their mom keeps asking what you're up to now).  Those are the people that regardless of the time and distance apart, that we should relish.  

It's no secret that my personal life was on easy street for years.  It makes it easy when your dating your best friend. However, life is an ever changing target and sometimes it throws you a curve ball when you don't expect it.  Thus I can honestly say that the last year or so hasn't necessarily been "easy" and I have had to grow so much as a person. But it was very nice to find out that relationships with people that I thought I lost, still genuinely cared about what I was up and how I was doing now.  Life is too short to get caught up in the "what if's" of life.  If you really want to know about the what if's in life, go do something about it.  And whether or not the answer is what you want to hear, you must learn from those experiences.  

I'm not sure if this reflection will actually make sense when I read it back but it is something that I felt needed to be put down on paper (or more accurately cyberspace).  The people who care about you and who you care about, are worth going the extra mile to keep in your life.  Even if that means driving the hour down to Indy to go to a karaoke bar, making that phone call to check in on someone, or even dropping everything to just hang out with someone when they really need a shoulder to cry on.  I really felt rejuvenated after seeing my old friends and in a time when everyone seems to be running away, it gave me comfort to find out we all have similar feelings about life.  We may be at different stages in life (married, college, new job, moving away, living at home) but we all need the love and support of our friends!  

So if and when you need a friend, never be afraid to call up that old pal that you haven't spoken to in a long while (or me, I'm always good for a little convo)!  Chances are they could use a little pick me up too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sacred Ground

Well everyone, it's Friday again.  It seems as though I forget about my this blog until Friday and then I remember that I want to put up some links.  However, today I probably should not be taking time out of the day to right a blog post but I have had an incredibly productive 10 days (more on that in a moment) and I really just want to spend a few minutes trying to put some thoughts down in cyber space to share with you all today.

Like I mentioned, I have essentially been on a 10 day school/work week.  Fall break was last Monday and Tuesday (10th and 11th) and thus I had a short week last week.  But as fate would have it I was asked to teach over the weekend, essentially eliminating my "weekend."  Thus I have been on campus from about 9-5 every day since last Wednesday.  Now, don't let that fool you, being a graduate student is also very flexible and I have had my fair share of down time.  But still, 10 straight days of being in the lab and constantly working on multiple projects has been yearning for a break.

Dr. Garnet E. Peck, Professor Emeritus
Purdue University, IPPH
With that said, I want to take a minute and discuss my experience at the 9th Annual Peck Symposium.  The Peck Symposium is hosted by the IPPH Department here at Purdue to honor Dr. Garnet E. Peck for his contributions not only to Purdue but to the world of pharmaceutics.  Dr. Peck is the lab instructor for the class I teach (I mainly teach coating, that's important for this next part).  Now I understood that Dr. Peck has had quite the impact on pharmaceuticals working with everything from tableting, to encapsulation, to coating.  But I did not know that he was essentially the pioneer of latex-based coatings that have been used in pharmaceuticals for thirty years.  So when I am teaching the coating lab and Dr. Peck walks into to inspect our work and says, "Those tablets look good!" that is more than just a professor telling you that you're doing it right.  To me, that is like Derek Jeter telling me I am a good hitter!  It is absolutely an honor to be working with someone of the caliber of Dr. Peck.  So yesterday was an eye opening day for me and my teaching experience.  But there is more...

The symposium featured speakers from across the country as well as a couple Purdue professors (including my own major prof. Dr. Taylor).  These speakers are from some of the top Universities/companies for both Pharmaceutical Sciences and research in general, including; University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin, Johnson and Johnson, University of Connecticut, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of South Florida.  And I understand that when you are invited to speak at a conference that you humbly talk about how honored you are to speak at the event.  But, on multiple occasions the speakers kept referring to Purdue as "sacred ground" in the field of solid state chemistry (SSC).  I know that Purdue has been a leader in the SSC for pharmaceuticals but it astonished me that these people from across the country saw this opportunity to speak at Purdue as one of their most honored experiences.  I may take being at Purdue for granted some days but today I truly feel blessed to be at Purdue University studying at the "sacred ground!"

All in all, it was an inspiring day for myself and the rest of the grad students who attended the symposium.  Next year I will have a poster with some of my work presented at the symposium as a warm-up to the AAPS National Convention.  

Enough of me blabbering on.  I have only a couple fragments for you all this week...

-Two words, Quantum Levitation.  Check out a quick link here, but the video is freaking catnip for science nerds!!!

-I found this site on fluid dynamics and it is a great way to spend 5-500 minutes watching awesome physics videos of fluids.  I particularly like the bouncing water video (scroll down a little and you'll find it).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fragmented Fragments

Alright, so I have been quite busy the last week and I am sorry but I do not have enough links for a full fragments.  However I will give an update on a few things happening around Purdue and elsewhere...

-Next week is the 9th Annual Peck Symposium at Purdue University hosted by our department (IPPH).  This year will focus on amorphous and crystalline solids, which is basically everything that our lab covers.

-Dr. Steve Byrn, a professor here in our department, is the chair of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education (NIPTE).  It consists of 10 Universities and last week the FDA awarded them a very large grant, up to 35 million dollars!

-Thanks goes to my brother Jacob (and Yahoo) for finding this awesome video of Dude Perfect and Brodie Smith in a trick shot showdown...it's pretty awesome!

-Twitter blew up last night with the announcement of another big recruit coming to Purdue for basketball...and there's even talk of a fab five (I'm looking at you Gary Harris)!

-This weekend I am teaching a regulatory class for industry professionals.  It is the same class that I teach during the school year, just crammed into three days.

-Lastly, I am headed to the West Lafayette at Lafayette Central Catholic football game tonight.  Both teams are undefeated (8-0) and both teams are number one in the state in their respective classes (WL-3A, LCC-1A).  Tonight's game is for a year of bragging rights, an undefeated regular season, and a conference title as both teams are in the Hoosier Conference.  Shout out to my pal Tommy for getting me tickets, considering they've sold 4500 for a high school football game!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fragments (10/7/11)

Friday again and today the "Fragments" are going into BEAST MODE!  For some reason when I opened up my folder of saved bookmarks for the fragments I found about 3 times the normal amount of links.  So without further blabbering here are enough links to keep you occupied all afternoon!

-As you know by now, Steve Jobs passed away this week.  And even though I have never own anything Apple, I believe that he single handily pushed a technology revolution that is still happening today. And I found this video that explains how Apple predicted the iPhone 4S technology 24 years ago in 1987!  It's pretty close to the real thing, down to the prediction of what year it will happen.  Thank you Mr. Jobs for everything you brought us, your legacy will live on for years to come.

-I said this last week, but Windows 7.5 (or Mango) is out for Windows phones and it's pretty good.  Already getting rave reviews, I hope that my turn to update will come shortly (it's some sort of phased update, wtf).  However, Microsoft also announced that they will no longer be making Zune players.  The Zune software, which I think is one of the best music players available, will still be available for PC and WP7.

-Some bad news in the contraceptive front this week, a widely used contraceptive in Africa may actually lead to an increased risk of HIV contraction. Not Good!  So to lighten the mood, check out these awesome condom brands!

-Accuweather.com released their winter weather outlook. And I'm official disgruntled! (The Midwest is in f
or a long, cold winter)

-I found this list of the most beautiful colleges campus. It seemed fitting since the leaves are starting to turn around campus.  Even if both Notre Dame and IU made the list.

-An interesting look at drug rationing in the US.  And Nanorockets...I think so!  These look awesome, plain and simple!

-In Nobel Prize news, the first ever posthumously award Nobel Prize was given out this week.  Also, chemist who was essentially forced out of his job and research because of his findings on quasi-crystals receives justification in the form of a Nobel Prize. 

-This link is only a quick look at the news in molecular science, but the atomic mirror is what caught my eye.  We may only be a few years away from quantum computers!

-The Japan earthquake earlier this year was so massive that it actually changed Earth's gravity!  Only by 2 billionths of a gal, but still.

-In the world of physics I found two very interesting articles.  One about neutrinos and the consequences of going faster than the speed of light.  The second on naked singularity.  Sounds sexy, so you'll have to click the link to find out (hint: you might be sorely disappointed).  Both have some relevancy to the currents state of physics research today.  Also, if you understand either one of the articles at all you should pat yourself on the back because I'm still a little confused and I read them a few days ago.

-In biology, scientists have used bacteria to encode messages.  I reported on E. coli being a memory storage device but this is pretty cool too.

-Lastly...this is one of the coolest time lapse videos ever.  I particularly like how you can see part of the Milky Way galaxy in some of the night shots.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fragments (9/30/11)

Well this week has been quite the crap-shoot of productivity.  At the times when I needed to be productive and get stuff done, I wasn't able to focus between the upcoming football, ridiculously ever-changing weather, and random activities around the lab.  And other times when I had time to just sit back and relax I decided to to go big instead of go home (my ass still hurts from plyometrics on Tuesday but whatever).  So, I have about an half hour to burn before my last requirement for the week on campus, my major professor's is giving a seminar to another department...and there's free refreshments!

Anyway, I wasn't prepared for a Fragments this week because I have just been lazy and forgotten to save interesting articles.  Plus, I have spent a good amount of my usual time spent of science and news articles looking at the Purdue vs Notre Dame preview and fantasy football stats. See Hammerandrails.com or BoiledSports.com for good Purdue sports blogs!

Side Note: Quick shout out to my brother, Adam, is 0-3 in our fantasy league but is by far the best manager I ever had in a fantasy league.  The dude writes extensive weekly reviews about the match-ups, previews upcoming games, and has created a ton of weekly "trophies" for me to waste time looking at during the week.  It feels some much more legit when I win!  Thanks dude! (I should also note that he isn't completely terrible at fantasy football, but he drafted Arian Foster [bust #1] and Peyton Manning before the surgery [bust #2]).

I digress, so I do have a few interesting links for you to finish your week up with...

-Being in the field of pharmaceuticals I get asked the same question a lot; "Why do drugs cost so much?"  I could (and will someday soon) explain the situation and my view on how the system works and how I believe it should work.  But until then here is a very well written article to explain some of the dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry.  I disagree with the idea thrown out at the end that the industry will enter an "Ice Age" soon but otherwise it is a very good article. (About 5-10 minute read)

-If you have ever seen those annoying QR codes and wondered what reasonable application they can have, look no further.  Wikipedia is going to start incorporating them into, well, anything and everything!  The Indianapolis Children's Museum is already using them.  I personally think this is a great idea!

-AlphaDog robot project...the video speaks for itself (hint: it's creepily awesome).

-I believe I may have noted about new injection techniques earlier but here is quick article about the advancement of needles and the future of injections.  This is standard IPPH stuff.

-Lastly, if you remember back in the spring there was talk of "alien life" found on earth.  Well, if you are really hurting to waste some time, this review over at PopSci.com is a great look at the debacle that is/was the "new life" form and the subsequent fallout for the scientists involved.

Alright that's all I got right now. Oh and don't forget to Boiler Up this weekend against the Crying Irish of Notre Dame!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Outline to Grad School

Well, my first major graduate school requirement has been assigned to me for the spring semester.  I will be giving my “first required seminar” to the department.  I am both excited and nervous already.  Because of this I feel it’s only appropriate to give a little overview of how my graduate school outline looks. I originally was going to post a new “Under the Hood” featuring my topic for the seminar (and what will eventually become my thesis work) but I want to have a large background before I write that post so that I can accurately paraphrase, because in reality I would bet none of you really care.  But I appreciate all the site views and support for my blog regardless!

Anyway, if you go onto the Purdue IPPH website it has links for the curriculum and requirements but the links just lead to under construction pages.  So I will do my best to fill you.  The Pharmaceutics Ph.D. program is considered a five year program so I will break it down into those five years and what is expected.

Year One –
  • Finish any pre-requisite classes (Physical Chemistry, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, etc.).
  • Take full course load of classes that are either helpful for your future research or helpful for background in you research area (Organic Spectroscopy, Statistical Design of Experiments, Computation Chemistry, etc.).
  • STAY OUT OF TROUBLE academically!

Year Two –
  • Begin working in the laboratory.
  • Identify area of research for thesis (non-specific).
  • Give “First Required Seminar” involving a literary review of relevant topics and preliminary data.
  • Take a few more classes that could aid in your work (Properties of Solids, Crystallography, etc.)

Year Three –
  • Continue lab projects.
  • Take one or two more classes.
  • Complete an “Oral Preliminary Exam” based on your direction of your thesis work.  Sometimes this is referred as an Opening Defense.

Year Four –
  • Lab experiments.
  • Write thesis.
  • Enjoy life.

Year Five (and Beyond) –
  • Give “Last Required Seminar” over your thesis research to the department.
  • Complete your “Thesis Defense.”
  • Submit your final “Thesis.”
  • Get a job!

So as you can see there are essentially five big milestones for the graduate curriculum (bold).  I am excited because I am finally getting to start on the first one!  I guarantee you will be hearing much more about all of these as they come and go.

As for my First Required Seminar, that involves an hour presentation to all the professors and students in the department.  It is the stepping stone into giving presentations at conferences and preparing for the grind of publishing and defending work during and after graduate school.  Needless to say, this might be the least significant presentation I ever give professionally, but it will definitely keep me up a few nights in the near future!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Fragments (9/23/11)

Fall seems to have finally made it's way to Purdue, as evidence by my unpredictable sinuses!  And as such, football is in full swing.  Now, my friend Aaron and I were discussing about heading to a local high school football game...not because we want to cheer for a team or because we know someone on a team.  But because we kind of miss the "Friday Night Lights" experience.  You know, paying 10 dollars for popcorn and a child size coke to watch awkward teenage boys hit each other, while the "cool kids" yell (usually at each other) on the sidelines, and the parents either get way too into the game and spray you with extraneous spittle or look like they are the subjects of a stress test gone haywire!  Now personally, I miss the halftime show.  You know, the real reason everyone shows up on Friday nights (at least in Avon).  That's right the marching band show.  So as a personal en devour I will attempting to not only make it to a local high school football game, but also a local marching band contest on a Saturday.  And I recommend it to all who want to relieve a little part of their teenage years.  Heck, take your significant other and make it a creative date (or man-date if you don't have that special someone).  So for anyone who would like to tackle this vendetta with me, hit me up in the comments section or text/call me if you have my number.  But I digress from the real reason you are here...the fragments!

-Physics had a HUGE week!  Today, scientists revealed a possible break in the speed of light barrier!  Other scientists have concocted an anti-magnet (read to find out because I still am not sure what that is).  And other research has lead to the first breakthrough in proton transistors, which would make computer-human symbiosis possible.  Those are three possibly huge breakthroughs in physics and I bet at least 1 out of the 3 will actually materialize into something substantial, sorry Einstein.

The new Windows "Blue Screen of Death"
Now with 50% less intimidation and 100% more
"you're an idiot!"
-For Windows phone users (me), Windows new phone OS, Mango, is set to release next week.  Excellent!  There is also a Windows 8 Beta currently out right now, if you're into that kind of thing.

-I already posted on this but gamers on the West Coast have utilized a video game to crack an AIDS mystery. In a word....spectawesome!  That is spectacular and awesome for those who are keeping score at home.

-Lastly, Hugh Jackman was on WWE this week. No I don't watch WWE anymore but I found this article about how he actually hit a guy in the face and broke his jaw.  Maybe it's not all fake <----obvious sarcasm!

Ok, that's all I got for now, enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthday Perspective

Another year another birthday! Currently I am sitting in a lecture hall "proctoring" an exam. Thus I will take this opportunity to give a quick birthday perspective.  This is unscripted and whatever comes to my mind will be written! And at 24 years old I have to say, I have the odd feelings of both being old and young at the same time.  I shall explain...

At 24, I am young.  I have (hopefully) 75% of my life to live still.  I have gotten through the awkward teenage years and through the crazy awesome college times.  So on the one hand I feel like I have the whole world at my finger tips and that I can achieve anything.

This is the nerdiest (coolest) birthday cake I have ever seen!
On the other hand, I am a grad student at Purdue.  Which means that on a daily basis I see thousands 18-22 year olds walking around campus, not to mention all the Purdue tours with kids that have Class of 2014 on the side of their letter jacket! I discussed with my friend the other day that the gap from 18-21 is a hundred times larger than the gap from 21-24 (or even 21-30).  Once you turn 21, you are a full fledged adult.  But a lot of people grow up, mature, and change from 18-21. Those are the years that will define you as a person.  So from that aspect I feel old because I have been "21" for three years now.  This might be the feeling middle aged women get once they turn 48, I mean the 18th anniversary of their 30th birthday!

In another aspect, I have done quite a bit of maturing myself over the past year.  Things change fast in life and adapting and maturing is the best way to move forward!  I had no idea I'd be where I am today a year ago and I can only hope that the next year brings about more progress and success.  To everyone that has been a part of my life, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  And to my parents, I would not be the man I am today without all your love, support, and guidance!

To summarize, embrace your birthday no matter what age.  Live life to the fullest, cherish the memories, and revel in the light that is your future!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Fragments (9/16/11)

So, I apologize for the lack of commitment lately on here.  I have excuse but I will refrain from using them as I know you probably don't care about my excuses.  I don't have too many fragments but I had an hour to kill before my first big presentation in my lab group (on Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation which will be the topic of an upcoming Under the Hood).

-I believe I have said this before but I would so be willing to be one of the first people to colonize Mars.  Well, NASA gave us a look at the rocket that might get us there!

-For all you "green" enthusiasts out there...the most environmentally friendly way to be disposed of when you die is evidently to be liquefied.

-In another AIDS research project, scientists have made kittens glow in the dark.  They used the glowing genes to indicate which cells had the target gene transfected into them.  Overview here....scientific article here.

-For some reason I find this terrifying but evidently you can make a flying, computer hacking drone that is untraceable.

-Recently, the US government has been debating things to cut in the budget.  One of those things is "public science."  Essentially it is governmentally funded research.  This is excellent article explaining the situation and I recommend it to anyone who likes science or politics (warning: it is pro-science, SHOCKER).

-Lastly, the Florida Marlins are going to be renamed the Miami Marlins and Nike has released the Air Mag shoe.  Back to the Future seems like a real possibility now!

UPDATE (per request)

-Miss Universe crowned their winner recently....Miss Angola (you're welcome Lindsey)!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Killing Time

After the long weekend I found myself motivated this morning to get "stuff" done.  So after reading a couple papers on LLPS (that's liquid-liquid phase separation for those of you keeping track of all the abbreviations), getting some homework finished, and preparing to teach lab this afternoon I have found myself with a little time to kill.  Unfortunately I am no longer as motivated to start a new project and I figured I would write quick blog post.

If you haven't noticed, the frequency of my posts has decreased since school started back up a couple of weeks ago.  Things are settling down a little school-wise and I hope to get back to some regularity.  Enough with formalities...

This last weekend marked the beginning of the college football season and our Boilermakers somehow squeaked out a win against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, 27-24.  Yep, there are no typos in that sentence and it was actually a really good football game as far as excitement value.  I believe Carson Wiggs is my favorite player this year because if the ball is in the stadium, he can put it through the uprights.  If you happen to make it to West Lafayette for a game this fall, look me up because my friend and I are planning on tailgating (front row) for as many games as we can! October 1st is the night game for Notre Dame (hint hint)!

Also last week I went to dinner with the guys from 105B.  They are the guys from the Taylor Lab group and we are starting to do some male bonding as the rest of the lab group in the basement are girls.  Anyway, it was my first major experience with authentic (or as authentic as you can get in the US) Indian food.  Not too bad!  I recommend going to an Indian buffet with someone familiar with the cuisine and customs.  There is a post-doc from India who was able to show us around the food and it made the whole experience enjoyable.  I do like learning and trying new things, especially from other parts of the world.  This week I believe we are going disc golfing and possibly playing some table tennis, and if you know me you know how I feel about table tennis.  But as a whole we have a really nice, diverse group of guys and it has already made working in the lab more comfortable.
Classic Design Fender Acoustic

Lastly, I am looking into getting an electric guitar this month as a birthday present to myself.  I have an acoustic (Classic Fender) but I think I want to give electric a try.  If you have any suggestions for guitars or amps for both quality and price that would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Speed of Sound

Do you ever feel like your life is moving at the speed of sound?  Well, the last two weeks or so has been just that for me.  My summer was definitely fun but also took patient.  Now, everything seems to be happening at once.  This is not a bad thing because I function at my best when my plate is full!  Call me crazy but seeing my calendar look like two rainbows got busy on top of it just adds to whatever motivation I have at that time.

With that said, here a few new items of mine for you to ponder upon…

The NQAD instrument
Last week was culmination of a few weeks working with a Sales Rep for a new instrument in our lab.  The NQAD for HPLC (Nano Quantity Analyte Detector for High Performance Liquid Chromatography) will hopefully allow our lab group to measure micro and nano quanitities within our projects.  Well, I arranged for the rep to come give a presentation and assist with the installation of this new instrument.  The overall installation process was almost a complete failure. The hardware works fine, but the software needed to actually gather data has been a real pain in my butt to say the least.  It has been a week since the rep was here and it is still a work in progress.  But, I learned a lot about research through the process.  I really appreciated that the sales rep, who is an analytical chemist not an actual sales person, took the time to know me and offer advice for a young graduate student.  I learned that as long as you have a passion for what you are doing, the rest will fall into place regardless of where you think it may or may not be going.  Not to mention I got a free lunch out of it (thanks again)!

Last Monday marked the beginning of yet another school year here at Purdue University.  Here are my observations.  The freshman look so young that I keep thinking there might be a middle school field trip on campus.  Parking on campus remains to be a complete disaster.  And I find myself laughing at people as they walk around campus (chasing busses, being in the wrong classroom, yelling at Robbie Hummel, etc).  Even though those things seem to be all negative, I really do enjoy that everyone is back on campus because of the closeness of Purdue (see this link if you need to know what I am talking about). 

Since the school year has started that means call-outs and club meetings have begun again.  I am a part of the student chapter of AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) here at Purdue.  This year I have been “elected” as the President Elect.  Essentially we have a President, Vice President, and President Elect and each year the Vice moves up to President, and the Elect moves up to Vice.  I believe that setup is used for consistency within the club.  Anyway, my one outlined role in the club right now is to make sure the bulletin board is up to date and looks good.  And I thought I had finished with bulletin boards after my Res Life days!?

Counter as of Friday (8/26/11)
Lastly, the Purdue starting QB, Rob Henry, tore his ACL at practice this week.  I just want it to be known that I have not torn my ACL yet but I will be taking extra precautions as I train for the Tough Mudder Competition schedule for November.  That being said, anyone associated with Purdue should immediately begin wearing knee braces on both legs to be safe!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fragments (8/26/11)

I apologize but I have been extremely busy the last two weeks.  However, I did find the following link that has 21 Scientific Research projects that will begin this fall.  It is a pretty good summary of the current state of research throughout the world.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Behind the Bench - Jeremy Daniel

In our first part of the ongoing series "Behind the Bench," we have a interview with Jeremy Daniel.  He is currently a Pharm D. Candidate at Purdue University.  The "Behind the Bench" series will highlight young professionals on the cusp of their careers, in order to provide a broader scope of pharmaceuticals and science to this site.  Enjoy!

Behind the Bench 

Dance moves are an elective in Pharmacy
School, I believe!
Name: Jeremy Daniel
Hometown:  Currently live in Jeffersonville, but I consider myself from Terre Haute, IN
Education: Bachelor's of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology specialization), Purdue University, 2010.  Doctor of Pharmacy, Purdue University, 2012.

Q1: Why inspired you to enter into the field of pharmacy?
I always loved chemistry in high school.  I enjoyed the problem solving that goes along with it and the various types of experiments that I was able to do.  Up until the last few months of high school, I wanted to major in chemistry in college.  However, after talking to my neighbor changed my viewpoint.  In Terre Haute, my neighbor was a pharmacist for Walgreens.  He found out that I wanted to go into something science related, so he started talking to me.  He convinced me I had good communication skills, always wanted to help people, and would be perfect as a pharmacist.  He told me about all the chemistry he had to take, so I was kind of sold.  Plus, he used to work for Budweiser as one of the QA people, and he had a pharmacy degree…so that was pretty legit.

Q2: What is your grandest aspiration for your career?
My goal is to one day be a psychiatric clinical pharmacist.  I look at most of our professors at Purdue and see how amazing they are in their areas of practice.  I am glad I got the opportunity to go to Purdue where some of the leading people in various pharmacy fields practice.  My favorite professor throughout my curriculum is Dr. Carol Ott, a psychiatric pharmacist with Wishard Health Services.  She writes book chapters for national publications, sits on the Board of Directors or other panels for national organizations, and has essentially paved the way for psych pharmacy practice at Wishard, both in the inpatient setting and in her outpatient clinic.  My goal is to one day be this great.  I feel this is the way I can make the biggest difference in my profession while still directly caring for patients and continuing to practice (rather than just sitting behind a desk in some office with a window).

Q3: What are your specific interests in pharmaceuticals?
As far as trends in pharmaceuticals, the drive towards more specific medicine is fascinating.  What I mean by this can best be summed up with modern cancer medications.  For instance, in the treatment of colorectal cancer, panitumumab (Vectibix®) and cetuximab (Erbitux®) are two drugs commonly used.  The response rates to these medications are great (as far as chemotherapy is concerned).  However, if a patient has a mutation in a GTPase called KRas, these drugs are virtually ineffective with an efficacy rate of less than 5%.  This signals the clinician that a different therapy is in order.  Likewise, there are other drugs that require the patient to express a certain receptor (if the patient has the receptor, over 80% efficacy; no receptor, less than 10% efficacy).  This trend towards drugs that are highly effective if patients present a certain way compared to putting one drug out for the masses makes me very optimistic in our ability to treat patients in the future.  This is definitely an interest of mine.

A trend that I absolutely loathe is the development of drugs that serve virtually no purpose in practice.  These “me too” drugs simply complicate patient treatment decisions, increase medical cost by increasing hospital formularies and retail pharmacy stock, and pass a large cost on to the consumer because of a very effective drug rep that convinced their doctor to prescribe the new brand name version over the generic version that has been out for 5 years.  I believe drug companies should focus on clinically meaningful (this is a very important point), novel treatments for either existing conditions or new conditions.  Unfortunately, this also adds cost due to the orphan status of most of those drugs, and I do understand how difficult this is from my BSPS background, but that is a discussion for a different day and another post…

Q4: What is the next step in your professional journey?
The next immediate step is completing my rotations and graduating pharmacy school.  My plan after that (at least right now) is to complete two years of residency and specialize in psychiatric clinical pharmacy.  However, all of this could change if I discover another area I am passionate about, but for the moment, this is what I have in mind.

Q5: Favorite thing about being in pharmacy?
My favorite thing about being in pharmacy is the difference I get to make in my patients’ lives.  In my community rotation, I saved a patient $2800 on his prescription for Zyvox by getting him on a patient assistance program from the manufacturer.  During this rotation in the hospital, I counsel at least 2 patients daily about Coumadin, which takes a lot of knowledge and attention to detail on the part of the patient to effectively manage their therapy.  A patient told me today that he appreciated me stopping by and talking to him because he had been on the drug for 2 months and no one counseled him on it.  He just changed his diet to try to eat better and ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism.  If someone would have talked to him about the food interactions with Coumadin, this probably would not have happened.  This difference is very important to me, and it is what makes pharmacy so great.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Fragments (8/12/11)

Friday is here again and I have been busy enough that there hasn't been a Fragments for a few weeks.  That doesn't mean that I don't have links.  If anything this edition may be the largest yet!

Before we get into the fragments, Monday will begin the "new" Behind the Bench series featuring other young people in science.  First up will be a few people in pharmacy and will expand from there.  So Jeremy Daniel you're up for Monday.

-Artificial organs are nothing new but that field changes everyday it seems. Two new advances in artificial lungs are quite intriguing.  First, scientists have create the first artificial lung that breathes regular air instead of pure oxygen.  Now people on artificial lungs aren't chained to oxygen tanks.  In related news, read this article about "made-to-order" lungs.  Similarly, scientists are making artificial spinal discs out of biological materials, which would be a better alternative than fusing the discs or metal/plastic discs that degrade and are subject to attack by the host's immune system.

-A few weeks ago I caught a article about the Large Hardon Collider and how close it is to finding the elusive Higgs Boson particle. That would be a major step forward for physics and chemistry (for those of you unfamiliar with the Higgs Boson here's the wiki article to catch you up).

-Work with Microsoft Excel? Check out these cheat sheets. Ctrl Shortcuts, Function Shortcuts, and Misc. Shortcuts. Also, here is your 2011 Excel World Champion.  Yep there is a competition for Excel, Word, and Powerpoint now!

-NC State scientists are experimenting with new memory devices that work like a memristor. They would have the consistency of jell-o and even be implanted into the body!  Creepy.

-In medicine news...another new drug has proven it can prevent HIV infection to a certain extent.  More exciting than that is the prospect of a new therapy that can be used against a broad spectrum of viruses.  Much like antibiotics can kill multiple bacteria, this new therapy attacks a process all viruses have in common. This lack of specificity also may prevent a virus from mutating to avoid destruction.  Lastly, if you ever wondered what I studied as an undergrad student in Industrial Pharmacy, this article describes what's in Viagra. Learning the what, how, and why of these ingredients is a lot of what I studied.

-The Web at 20...take a trip drop memory lane (I'm thinking of you America Online)!

-If you are like any other normal human being, you probably love girl scout cookies.  Well, one box of girl scout cookies could be worth $15 million dollars in graphene.  Don't believe me, check it out!

I think that's enough for now...enjoy your Friday and weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quick Thoughts

So I looked at my Outlook calendar this morning, like I do every morning, and realized that it is August 11th! Where the heck did the summer go?  BGR moves in this weekend (for the non-Boilermakers out there that is the Boiler Gold Rush or freshman orientation week here at Purdue) and school starts in about two weeks.  Now, I am not particularly worried about school starting, as I am taking one class and teaching one class but I have kind of enjoyed being on campus with less people.  I mean, I have been here during the summer before but this is first summer I have been able to have any kind of social life during the summer.

Anyway, I have a couple quick thoughts today before a pretty beefy Friday Fragments tomorrow...

I saw Rise of the Planet of Apes last weekend and my review is up over at the Stickyshoereview.com.  I really enjoyed the movie, but watching with my family I realized that it may not be for everyone.  I also had the opportunity to go see a friend perform Crackers Comedy Club in Broad Ripple last week.  If you enjoy stand up comedy I recommend going to Crackers on open mic night.  You will laugh with the funny comedians and laugh at the bad ones.

The weather has finally broken into a pleasant streak here in Indiana but that still hasn't prevented one of my biggest pet peevs in the lab...sandals!  Now let me be clear, everyone in my lab always wears proper protection (and sometimes we all look like a sci-fi film because we all wear lab coats, gloves, glasses, everything).  But I consistently see students from other labs (mainly MCMP labs) wearing flip-flips and shorts carrying around petri-dishes, test tubes, and other lab equipment. I remember kids getting kicked out of Ms. Hale's AP Chem class in high school for wearing sandals and yet these people risk injury in order to be fashionable for summer.  So buck up, put on your jeans and tennis shoes like everybody and help me down off this soap box.

Ok that's enough for now.  Last thing, I signed up for twitter (please leave your derogatory comments at home) so look me up @Pharmjack29!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big School, Little City, Great College Town

So yesterday I made what has become a pretty regular trip to the Subway across the street from campus.  Considering it is only 5 minutes from the pharmacy building I have been there quite a few times for lunch this summer.  Anyway, I enjoy this Subway for many reasons.  First, it has two lines and an upstairs dining area, fancy!  Second, since it is across from Mackey Arena and the sports training facilities I see many Purdue athletes and coaches.

But yesterday I was in line behind a new student who was here to tour campus with her mother and I believe aunt.  Yes I was creepin’ into their conversation a little bit but I didn’t throw myself into their talk nor did I stare or make it obvious that I was creepin’, minus the time I laughed at them making fun of the cheerleaders in front of us ordering just “lettuce.”  Anyway, they were discussing a bunch of things about campus because I think the aunt met them for lunch and they were catching her up on the morning.  They talked about extra-curricular activities and BGR (Boiler Gold Rush, the freshman orientation program).  But what sparked my enthusiasm to write this post was their perspective on how big the campus is here.  They couldn’t get over how large the campus was and how confusing the streets were.

[Side note – The streets here are pretty confusing and I believe that the first Purdue engineers designed the campus streets a type of IQ test to keep stupid people from attending Purdue, but whatever.]

Purdue Mall on campus.
Anyway, I have always thought Purdue is great because that is all that is here.  West Lafayette is Purdue and vice versa.  Everything here revolves around the college life; even the Wal-Mart close to campus has a completely different feel to it than most Wal-Marts.  So when I hear someone talking about how big it is I immediately think, it could be so much worse.  I have visited IU and Wisconsin a couple of times and those campuses and cities are so much larger than Purdue, not to mention I have heard stories about Ohio St and how it takes 30 minutes to get from one end of campus to the other, by car!

Now I could talk about how much I love Purdue and all it has to offer has both a school and a community but, in my true scientific nature, I have decided to collect some data to analyze and test my hypothesis that, “Purdue is a large school with a small school feel, comparatively.”  That gives Purdue a unique experience that is hard to find, with both vast opportunities and small town charm.  I could go on and on about Purdue and West Lafayette but I will focus on how it compares to the rest of the B1G TEN.

First let’s look at the size of the schools…

Stupid Indiana, messing up my graph!
This first graph compares the student population size (blue line) to the “listed size” of the campus.  Now if you aren’t familiar with the B1G TEN, here is a crash course.  All 12 Universities are large public universities (minus Northwestern) which are very prestigious academically.  They all are a part of the Association of American Universities which is devoted to academics and research (Nebraska isn’t yet but they are new to the B1G Ten and will hopefully be striving for that honor).  Outside of Northwestern, all of the schools have large student bodies (Northwestern is about half undergrads, half graduate students) and have large financial support for both research and athletics.  Things that stand out in this graph…

1. Ohio State has by far the largest campus size while Wisconsin and Northwestern surprise because that are both in larger cities (Madison and Evanston/Chicago).
2. OSU is the only school to have a campus listed has over 10 square miles.
3. Nebraska is not as big as I thought in both population and campus size.

Now let’s compare the school population to the size of the city that the school calls home…

Well, somewhat similar.  Again ordered by school population size here are the things that stuck out to me…

1. Columbus, OH is by far the largest city. 
2. Since NW calls Evanston home that city is fairly small since it is essentially a small suburb of Chicago.
3. Wisconsin and Nebraska both shot up the chart along with Minnesota, but no real surprises as those are all major cities (Madison, Lincoln, and Minneapolis respectively).
4. Purdue and PSU  are in tiny towns comparatively.  Actually, Penn State is listed as being in University Park which is at 1.5 square miles.  However, their listed campus size is 8.5 square miles.  Uh?  Evidently their city limits are smaller than their campus limits, not to mention that 1.5 square miles is practically nothing. So the size of Penn State’s city will be the larger of the two (8.5 square miles) for this “research.”

Ok, well we have established that OSU is huge, Northwestern is small, and everyone else usually falls in the middle somewhere.  Now let’s look at one more graph before making a decision on whether or not Purdue has a large or small “feel.”

The line is the amount of students per square mile of city since the students usually live in and around the campus, not just on campus.  I sorted it from most to least students.  The bars represent the amount of the city that the campus actually takes up.  Penn State is leveled off at 1.0 because it’s campus is supposedly larger than the city it is in.  My thoughts…

1. Purdue, PSU, and MSU are head and shoulders above everyone else in both cases.  These schools are in college towns and that is essentially all that is there.  Also, taking into account the amount of students these campuses/cities are relatively small compared to other schools of this size (IU, Illinois, Mich, Minn)
2. Again, Columbus is huge and even though they have lots of students they still barely crack 250 students per square mile (remember student numbers are in thousands)
3. Nebraska is befuddling to me but I think it must feel huge because it is the only thing in Nebraska.  Too mean?
4. Northwestern is located in a small suburb so it probably feels much smaller than most schools here because it has half the students and a tiny campus (0.4).

Overall, I think it is easy to tell that Purdue is actually not the “large” in comparison to other schools in the Midwest.  MSU and PSU are similar institutions and have similar feels in that they are located in cities that are essentially just the University.  I feel Purdue has a small feel to it once you live here for about 6 months and become accustomed to the college town life.  I love that Purdue has nearly 40,000 students and yet we all within 10 minutes from each other around town.   So parents, the next time you find yourself lost at Purdue just think what those poor kids who happen to go to Wisconsin, Ohio State, or heaven forbid IU feel like?

-  I understand that this data has been subjectively looked at and I have done this whole analysis in about 3 hours of time. 
-All data was collected from Wikipedia.org, which everyone knows is the most credible source in the world.
- Yes, West Lafayette is close to Lafayette, but under that logic you would have to include Chicago for NW, St Paul for Minnesota, Urbana for Illinois, about 8 small towns for PSU.
- My goal here was not to belittle any University.  You must find the correct fit for you and the part of that fit is whether you want the city experience (like Madison, WI, Chicago, IL, or Columbus, OH) or you want college town (West Lafayette, IN, University Park, PA, or East Lansing, MI).  And for those of you who don’t know what you want there are plenty of in between schools.  Also, the B1G TEN is the home to some fo the largest public schools in the country, so there are many other schools which reside in “college towns” as well.  I just wanted to point out the relatively, Purdue is small compared to other schools with this amount of students and prestige.
- Lastly, this does not take into account the population of these cities, nor does it account for where exactly people live.  Obviously OSU has a higher student density than 260 students per square mile because nobody is going to live on the other side of town from the main campus buildings.  The point here is to emphasize how large the actual cities are in comparison to how large the school is.  For example, for West Lafayette to “feel” as big as Columbus, it would need to have about 1500 students.  There are 2254 students registered for the Freshman Chemistry class, CHM 115, this fall (about 450 students per lecture class).

Thoughts anyone, I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks too!