Earth hour




The sun came to say hello and I’m finally back in lab!

Round of primary PCRs in the morning, some restriction digests and a bit of thesis through the middle.

Secondary PCR round almost over and hope to have loads of amplicons for overnight sequencing! 🙂

Love to be in the lab!



The number 21.

The start of Spring.

The chromosome that, in one per 800 to one per 1000 births, comes in three copies instead of the normal two.

And to remember that science is here for a reason, a beautiful video from an Icelandic band called Sigur Rós. Song is Svefn-g-englar (can be translated as Sleepwalking Angels).

The Geek within


For those who think that scientists are not fun.

For those who think that scientists can’t sing.

For those who think that scientists can’t dance.

For those who think that scientists can’t have a laugh.

For those who think that scientists are boring.

but also…

For the scientists that lost motivation and joy of living in a lab-coat.

For the scientists that praise the geek within.

Bio-Rad is back with another hit that surely will make all those white hips move!

Mental block


Two weeks of mental block… Or fingers block?!…

Surprisingly, the world hasn’t stop turning and some people’s mind keep being active (hope mine will be back, one day).

Like the creator of this cartoon:


4 years of PhD geniously squeezed into a pile of papers…

And how many people will eventually read it?

Back to lab?



Today I broke my pippeting abstinence! And for nothing else than aliquoting radiation! Never handling so much radiation at once felt as good as today! After one month of writing-up I’m more than ready to go back to the lab and do what I love: experiments. I just wish I could go to sleep and wake up tomorrow with the thesis done!

imagesSome days ago a curious study came to public giving funny highlights like the one in this blog.  A research lead by Christian Starkenmann for a perfume company in Geneva, Switzerland, aimed to define the compounds responsible for the sweat-smell of men and women, so that better deodorants and perfumes could be developed. They tested the armpit sweat from 24 men and 25 women after they spent time in a sauna or doing bike exercises (collecting these samples was probably not a pleasant job) and analyzed the components. They found that, women-sweat had a sulphury compound that, when mixed with the bacterias that usually live in our armpits, was transformed into thiol, which has a onion-like smell. Men, however, had a fatty-acid that released a cheesy-smell when exposed to the same bacterias.

I find so amusing the media coverage given to this study, especially as I would be extremely careful analyzing the implications of these results. I don’t question the compounds that they have found but I think those compounds are probably an effect of what the volunteers ate that day, what kind of fabrics they were wearing, maybe even genes can influence their sweat-smell. Or maybe the women tested had been in a raclette-party and the men in a “how to cut onion” workshop? I’m not very found of cheese-smell (who is?), so I would like to see this experiment repeated in other places in the world to see if these smells are exclusive to Swiss people or if there are men that smell to something more pleasant than cheese out there.

SET for women

I’ve been recently interviewed by UKRC to feature in their GetSETWomen Blog. You can read my profile in their blog here:
UKRC is a branch of SET (Science Engineering and Technology) that aims to improve the participation and position of women in industry, research, academia and the public services. It mainly provides information and advice for women entering, returning and progressing in SET careers.
The GetSETWomen Blog has been featuring women from different fields of science, engineering and tecnhology and in several stages of their careers.

Mode: writer


phd011409sI have to admit, this thesis-writing thing is not my “cup of tea”… I love writing! I love just letting thoughts flow out of my brain, most times in a completely chaotic way, I know but I found it so refreshing, so relaxing for my brain and feelings! But, thesis-writing is a completely different topic… Go back, read most papers again and again, but this time not to learn but to juice up everything that is REALLY new, and meaningful for the topic. Reword some experiments, models, conclusions to avoid plagiarism, even if that idea was already explained in a 1001 different ways!

I have to confess, I was so excited to start it! Just to focus on it and sit in front of the pc for days and days. Throughout the past three years I’ve dreamt with time for sitting home and properly focus on reviewing literature. And now, 5 days and 12 pages later, I’m already tired and bored! I’m still happy with it, but it has been such a waste-of-time frustrating experience! I can probably juice up these 5 days in around 6-8 hours of pure inspirational time, when most of what I’ve written happened! I can’t motivate myself to write continuously, my mind starts flying away, every little thing distracts me! Even had a 5min telepathic conversation with a pigeon that was staring at me outside the balcony! My friend Joana would love this (she is doing a PhD in pigeon behavior and intelligence)!

I’m fully aware that everyone goes through this, another friend even named us as Thesis Writing Affliction Team, or most kindly TWAT (now I fully understand you Rob!). But… I’m still in the beginning! HELP!

homer-sleep1No, is not just me loving my bedtime. Neither it’s another “beauty-sleep” prescription from one of those “informative” magazines. Science shows now that yes, we should sleep 7-8 hours a day, at least to avoid colds!

Scientists from Carneggie Mellon University, in Pensilvania (USA), studied 153 healthy men and women, with an average age of 37 years old. For two weeks the participants were daily asked how many hours they slept that night, how long they took to fall asleep and if they felt rested in the morning. After this period, they were in quarantine and then administrated nasal drops with common rhinovirus that causes common colds.  They were then monitored for symptoms of common cold. The results show that the less a participant slept (effective sleep, not time spent in bed), the higher the probability of developing a cold. So, those who sleep less than 7 hour/night have three times more chance of developing colds after viral exposure than those who sleep 8 hours or more.

Lesson learnt, sleep 8 hours a night!