So I did another one of my experiments yesterday and since I haven't done a little happy dance, that means that it didn't work out.  Again.  Our model is still just a tad too lethal.  But I won't lament my failure to get results today.  I wrote about guilt yesterday and I want to continue that theme today.  What else do I feel guilty about besides not seeing my horrible, terrible in-laws for the holidays?  Well, these experiments…each one means I kill an animal.  And I like animals.  A lot.  Even experimental animals.  That stink.  I know that we need to do experiments on animals because we can't do them on humans.  And that they don't die for nothing.  But it's still hard for me not to feel guilty about killing these innocent animals.  One moment they're sitting in their cage.  And the next they're sedated and being cut open.  Never to wake up again.  And at the end of the day, they just get tossed into a biohazard bag in a bucket to be disposed of.  It gets to me after awhile.

Now before you call me naive, this is not the first time I've worked with animals.  I did so as an undergrad.  But I never saw the experiments from beginning to end.  I never saw the animal awake just minding its own business.  And I never saw it struggle and fight against being given a shot (to induce anesthesia).  I only saw it lying on the operating table covered with drapes with various catheters coming out of it.  Seeing them like that made it easier for me to not think of them as living, breathing things that we were killing.  But now that I'm behind the scenes and I'm there every step of the way, it really gets to me.  Especially when my experiments don't work.  Of course, it's not a waste because I learn something new every time.  But a part of me can't help but feel that way. 

How can I be a scientist who can't work with animals?  The answer is I can't unless all I do is clinical trial work, which just isn't basic science enough for me.  And I might as well kiss my PhD goodbye if I simply refuse to work with animals.  My major professor actually threatened to "fire" me for refusing to work with dogs as a part of one of his experiments that had absolutely nothing to do with my thesis.  I stood my ground there because he had no right to force me into that project anyway.  But I have no choice when it comes to my thesis.  I'm not working with dogs.  I'm working with an animal that we, myself included, routinely eat.  And yet I still have a hard time with it.  So hard in fact that I want to become a vegetarian, which is just crazy considering I hate vegetables and never eat them.  Just goes to show how much these experiments are wearing down on me.

Which is why I have to finish.  I have to work out this model and test my hypothesis.  Because I don't want to kill any more animals than I have to.  Really, I don't.  This PhD has taken its toll on me in so many ways from major professor hell to qualifying exam hell to stuck-in-a-rut-going-nowhere hell to now guilty-about-killing-animals hell.  I really need to finish before I go crazy from all of this.  Although I guess it could be worse.  I could be decapitating monkeys and harvesting their brains.  But still.

So in honor of the animals that have given their lives for research that betters our lives, I've chosen Elton John - The Circle of Life as my song for this week.  Hopefully it'll all be over soon.

Song suggestions?  Send them to me here

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» The 10 dirtiest jobs in science.  Hey, they forgot to include being your major professor’s bitch.  Okay, I guess that isn’t quite as literally dirty as those on the list, but it sure feels like it is. # 0

» Yum!  Now that’s something I can live with: eating curry to stave off cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers in Singapore found that people (aged 60-93) who ate curry even only occasionally scored higher on the Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) than those who never ate curry.  The curry spice, turmeric, contains curcumin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  And the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly in India is fourfold less than that in the United States. # 0

» There’s a great article today about how the MIT Dean of Admissions wants to reduce admissions anxiety in teenagers.  How about parents getting off of their kids’ backs?  That would help.  But I do admire her for trying to create a friendlier system that might just ease the pressure enough to not give parents such reason to push their kids so hard.  Too bad it probably won’t happen any time soon.  And go ahead and try to tell Asian parents to stop pushing their kids to the point of insanity.  I dare you. # 0

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