James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

March 6, 2009

Long Overdue

Filed under: Uncategorized — James @ 7:28 pm

Since my last real post, I’ve started a new rotation and the rainy season has started out here in the bay area.

This new rotation as been … a lot of work. I went from a first rotation in a traditional genetics lab, to a second rotation doing molecular biology with a little gene annotation thrown in on the side, and now I find myself working on a purely computational project, and I spend half my time teaching myself all the thing I would have learned about Perl if I’d ever had the time to take a formal class in it or reinventing the well because I haven’t realized someone already found a solution to the problem. I feel like I’m learning quickly, but since I was starting essentially from zero, I’m making a lot of newbie mistakes and then have to work twice as hard to catch up.

I’m four weeks in to my current rotation and have yet to so much as pick up a pipetter or run a PCR reaction. In fact the only laboratory chemical I’ve had any interaction with is Isopropanol and that was just because I was helping one of the techs in the lab upgrade the processors in one of our servers and isopropanol works great at cleaning the thermal paste off of processors.

Getting the chance to assist with the upgrade process was fascinating in its own right, the labs servers are co-located in the primary hosting facility for UC-Berkeley. To get access we had to call up and have them send an elevator down and show ID once we got up to the central command chamber for the facility. Walking through the rows of actual server racks, one is buffeted by alternating blasts of hot and cold air (heat exhaust from the servers and the outlet vents of the enormous air conditioning system respectively), and the process of actually pulling, upgrading and reassembling of the server was coordinated by pantomime and shouts half hear over the roar of the assembled equipment and the mandatory earplugs.

1 Comment »

  1. Cool!

    Comment by A. N. Mouse — March 7, 2009 @ 6:04 am

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