Saturday, November 17, 2007

social studies

Oh… is that an MSTP thing?

So it appears that the divide between MSTPs and MS1s has been widening. I first started noticing it at the med school applicant parties. When all of the next day’s applicants are relaxing and enjoying free pizza courtesy of WUSM, the first years will descend and answer questions, eat free food, and shoot the shit. Every once in a while, an applicant would ask a question and an MS1 will finish their answer with something like “… unless you’re an MSTP, then it’s different.” This evolved over the weeks into some variants, such as “unless you’re an MSTP. They get all the money/they’re spoiled/they’re special.” Sometimes, an applicant would ask me a question and an MS1 will cut in and say something like “he wouldn’t know, he’s an MSTP.” Aggravating, huh? Really, we are just like MS1s. The only differences are that we have the option to take one different class than the MS1s do, we get paid tuition (ahem… 16 MS1s have free rides, but who thinks of that?), and that we have the occasional research talk over lunch.

Well, it went to a new level last Thursday. I was talking to a MS1 that I consider a pretty good friend. We were talking about Indian restaurants in the area, and she recommended her favorite. I said “Hey! I’m going to be there on Sunday!” Her response was “Oh, is this another MSTP lunch?”

This bothered me. Yes, some of the MSTPs are good friends. About a third of us are very, very close, at least half are good enough friends that we often will eat dinner/see a movie /etc. with each other. When we do so, however, there are usually MS1s there as well. We are by no means exclusive. Now on the flipside, the person that organized this Indian lunch on Sunday invited only MSTPs, but that’s her prerogative, not ours as a whole. In fact, last night I was hanging out with 9 people, of whom I was the only MSTP. Basically, what I’m getting at here is that there is no such thing as a Sunday MSTP lunch. It’s just a lunch among friends, but I guess some in our class feel otherwise and see the MSTPs as an exclusive group. Oh well, I guess it’s bound to happen to some extent.

On a related note, I am now also in a hard place because of my lack of social exclusivity. The class as a whole is 123 people. I am now involved in planning a trip with some friends (mostly MS1s, to relate this to the previous story). I want to have my friends with me, of course, but there’s a problem. Because I refuse to be cliqued off, many of my friends come from separate social groups. No big deal, as most people still get along fine. The problem lies in that there are some seeds of contempt here and there. What to do when some of my friends really don’t like some of my other friends?

Oi. They weren’t kidding when they said med school = high school with smarter people.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

more of the same + a random rant

So, things around here have become a bit routine. Not in a bad way for an MSTP student, mind you, but for you guys as readers. There’s little else about which to write. I mean, as L has already written, our first anatomy exam (not too bad) and first MCB (molecular cell biology, the grad school course a bunch of us take) exam (OI VEH! Don’t get me started…) have past us by, and some MSTPs are currently cranking for their MFM (molecular foundations of medicine, a.k.a. mother f*%&ing molecules) tomorrow. The rest of the MSTPs, however, are chilling until histology (Wednesday’s exam) and physiology (Thursday).

Cliff’s notes: school is moving along, and there is very little that we can write about at this point.

Oh, but it’s interview season! I can honestly say that I love seeing applicants. I take the MD applicants on little unofficial tours where I show them stuff that they don’t get so see on theirs. The MSTP tours, however, are much more thorough. I digress: what I want to get at is if you find me during your MSTP interview, I’ll talk your ear off and distract you from the stress of the whole process.

On to something totally unrelated to life here: does anyone else think that Rosalind Franklin’s status as some sort of feminist martyr is little more than BS? I only bring this up because WIRED magazine is running a thing on the most underappreciated scientists in history, and Franklin is near the top (a position dominated by Tesla, and rightfully so, in my opinion.) Yes, photograph 51 was vital to the W-C model of B-DNA, but honestly, she just took a photograph. She was a good crystallographer in that she could take a good photo, but if she was that good, couldn’t she solve the structure herself? She sat on the data. She was ready to drop the project and leave altogether because she hated working at King’s. Yes, yes, she hated it because King’s was an institution full of sexism, but that had nothing to do with Watson’s or Crick’s ideas. People just make this assumption, which I think was wrong: Franklin was a victim of sexism in science, and Franklin’s photo was used* without her knowledge to elucidate the structure of DNA, therefore she should have gotten credit as the true discoverer of the DNA structure to rectify the sexism.

I don’t buy it. I am not saying anything about her here other than that her role in this particular paper was little more than that of a technician. And at least a technician would have had intellectual input. She had none (for whatever reason: some basically hold to it that she was a hostile bitch and had no interest in any sort of contribution, others say that the man kept her down and disallowed her to add her intellectual muscle should she have it in this particular experiment.) So when I hear someone saying that Franklin is the real discoverer of the double helix, I interpret that as worse than sexism – scientific ignorance and reactionary feminism.

I’m bound to get hate mail/comments about this. Whatever, I have researched this plenty and I love the intellectual exercise.

PS I finally got a camera. Expect some more photographs of life as an MSTP, especially come spring when things really get fun/crazy.


*: “used” is a very, very loose word here. She presented a lot of data to her peers at a talk prior to this, and photo 51 merely received a glanced at by Crick. That’s all he needed to do. He didn’t really use the photograph as the intellectual workhorse of the structural study.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The end of test craziness...for now!

It's been a while since I posted so I thought that it was time for an update.

Things have been crazy here lately! I just finished a take-home test that capped off my first round of tests in med school! We had anatomy on Monday (which everyone in our fantastic class passed!) and then our in-class molecular cell bio (MCB, which is a grad school class that a lot of MSTs take instead of med school biochem) exam on Tuesday followed by a take-home that's due tomorrow. I'm definitely ready for a bit of a break!

Amidst all of this test craziness it was really great to see how nice our class really is. Everyone really worked together in studying for the anatomy exam, and as many of us MSTs were left studying on Monday night we got visits by some of the med students and MSTs not in MCB that included food (cookies and apples) to help us study! It's so nice to be going to school with such considerate people!

On a totally separate note, MSTP interviews are starting this week, which is really exciting! To all of you applicants out there, good luck and don't be nervous!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

work all day, play all night.

Well, we (mostly) survived our first MSTP retreat. Now, going into the retreat, I thought that the second year MS’s were a little crazy. They seem to party harder than anyone I had ever seen over the summer. That, combined with the fact that the second year students (including the MSTPs) had just finished their first exam block, lead me to expect that the second year MSTP students would be partying pretty hard on that Saturday night. Well.. I was wrong. The older MSTPs, especially those who are about halfway through their lab work, were intense! The retreat was mind-blowingly fun. I mean, the float trip was great because it was mostly just the firstyears, and all of the MS’s were involved. But the MSTP crowd, it turns out, is just as fun.

I think I got to bed around 4:30 AM. Others just didn’t sleep at all. After listening to 5ish hours of research presentation, you really gotta let loose.

(it's hard to blog while listening to uncle bob lecture about heart physiology...)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

work hard, play hard

So the routine is settling in. Most of us MSTPs are fixtures at the study carrels after lecture and for most of the afternoons during the weekend. The carrels are actually a great place for “social studying” so it keeps the stress kinda low. Don’t fret, however, as we are not really boring due to all of this studying. In fact, two of the MSTPs were just elected to the social chair position, which means people seem to have gotten the idea that MSTPs are actually fun and can organize a good party. Some of the second years even think that the MSTP class this year is a little too crazy.

Oh, and I hope to see some of you readers (there are a few hundred of you now! I am shocked.) at the interviews that are fast approaching. You won’t have much trouble figuring out who I am.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Two weeks down....and many more great ones to come!

So the last three weeks (orientation + the first 2 weeks of classes) have been absolutely amazing. I've met almost our entire med school class, and everyone really seems great! It's so nice to be surrounded by people who are fun, but can also have really interesting conversations.

The last two weeks have pretty much been a big jump into med school, but so far it's been what I expected: a lot of work, but mostly interesting stuff. Also, everyone has remained pretty social, which is nice; however, the number of social outings has decreased, but that's to be expected.

Since so much has happened in the last few weeks, I'll try and hit the highlights:

We had our white coat ceremony at the end of orientation week and most people's parents/families came in town. I was a bit skeptical of the white coat ceremony because I thought it sounded kind of dumb, but it was actually really nice. It was also really cool to be able to get to meet a lot of people's parents/siblings/etc. Since I hadn't been home for almost a month, tt was great to see my parents for the weekend and get to hang out with them!

Last weekend we had the diversity retreat/ropes course. About 4/5 of the class came, which was awesome. We had the diversity retreat friday night and then stayed overnight in a hotel. The next day we went to a ropes course, which also included a climbing tower and some team-building activities. The diversity retreat was pretty fun, and we talked about some different case studies and how preconceived notions and assumptions about different types of people could affect the way you treated a patient. That night there was a killer dance party, where almost everyone there danced and had a GREAT time! The next day we broke into groups and rotated between the ropes course, climbing tower, and team-building activities. We were divided randomly into groups, which gave a great opportunity to get to know new people better. I was really impressed with how well everyone cooperated. I thought with so many high-achieving ambitious people it might be difficult, but we really didn't have any problems!

Last week, we started anatomy class and lab. It's definitely a little weird, but I think that it will be really valuable to see what we learn in class in a real body. I was really fine the first two days and then on Friday, I got a bit nauseaus, but I think that I'll get used to it. I guess part of me doesn't really want to get used to it just because I don't want to forget that we are dissecting a human body. It's tough striking a balance between objectifying and personalizing your cadaver.

We also had our first Primary Care Preceptroship (PCP) this week. PCPs are a part of the Practice of Medicine class ( you can see we like abbreviations). You have 4 PCP visits throughout the year with the same physician. Mine was with a Internist whose office was about 20 minutes away from campus. He was amazing. He was very very nice, and he had a fantastic way of personally connecting with his patients. He also let me do a lot of things, like practicing how to interview a patient, which was really cool, but definitely kind of scary, since I've only been in med school for 2 weeks.

Today was the float trip (i.e. a tubing trip, for those of you from TX). I didn't go because I wanted some extra down time this weekend to rest and try and get some things done, like cleaning, but I suspect it was a fantastic time. I'm really glad I didn't go though because I think I'm getting sick, so it was good to have the extra time at home.

Well, I think that's all of the highlights for now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nerdy Med School Pick Up Line of the Day!

Hey, you want to go back to my place and anastamose?

**For those of you that weren't in class today, anastamose was defined as "hooking up"

Will post more later.

A quick anatomical anecdote

I never hesitated with the cadaver. I saw it as an object from the start, and this is clear in the manner in which I dissect. While everyone else pokes timidly, I follow my Grant’s dissector verbatim in that “in the context of this dissection manual, the meaning of dissect is to tear apart.” I dive in as I would do when taking apart a car, computer, or vacuum cleaner. Today, however, I stopped for the first time. In order to relax the pectoralis major, the arm needs to be adducted and flexed. One of my partners was struggling to get his hands under the muscle, so I grabbed the cadaver’s hand to pull it toward the median. That’s when, for a split second, I paused; in lifting the arm, the fingers tightened a little. It is horrendously cliché, but it really reminded me that this human body was once a human being.

Monday, August 27, 2007


So suddenly there is a lot more about which I should write, but as a result there is only a small fraction of the time to write. Here’s my lame attempt to catch you up on what it means to be an MSTP:

So starting from L’s definition of rocktastic (a word derived as a description of what it feels like to be at a bar with most of the 1st years and a $1000 tab that needed to be polished off), the last few weeks have been an absolutely amazing time. The remainder of orientation week went like this: be at the LTC by 8:30 AM or so, be orientated until anywhere from 3 to 5 depending on the day, nap for an hour, go out and party like rockstars until 1:00 (or 3:00, or 6:00 AM, depending on the night and your degree of rocktasticallity) only to wake (assuming you went to bed) and go back in at 8:30 the next morning. The class bonded exceptionally well, and the MSTPs for the most part are an even tighter subsection of the med class. This is not to say that we aren’t completely rooted with the rest of the M1s, but the MSTPs tend to have dinner parties or other functions before the other events because we really enjoy the conversations we have as a group. Pool parties, sports in the park, movies, and pub crawls have been the norm. Classes started and everyone dove right in, taking it very seriously and at the same time making plenty of time for fun. The diversity retreat was awesome (everyone, literally every single person, had a blast. Do it next year.) and we have the float trip coming up next weekend on top of all that.

Honestly, these three weeks (WUMP through present) have been the best I can remember. Plus, anatomy is SO COOL and we MSTPs get to have a free lunch after our Wednesday lab, and the smell of formalin makes you really, really hungry.

Things that suck:

· A lot of food in my fridge went bad because I haven’t had the need to eat more than 3 or 4 meals at home in the last few weeks. This isn’t so bad, because that means we’ve been dined a lot.

· Some of the IT stuff has still been rocky, especially for the MSTPs here this summer. We couldn’t log into the carrel computers for a while, our medportal (the site that has all of the class notes) has been sketchy with access, and the wireless was a bit of a pain to set up since the IT dept. needs to commandeer your laptop for a day or so to do it for you.

That’s about all I can come up with. Sorry about the poor writing here; I am watching a dissection video online while writing so my attention is about 25%.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


New word of the week:
Function: adjective
Date: 2007
Origin: Goiffonian/Fogelian hybrid
Etymology: A combination of the word rock, which originates from Middle English rokken, from Old English roccian; akin to Old High German rucken to cause to move, and fantastic, which comes form Middle English fantastic, fantastical, from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French fantastique, from Late Latin phantasticus, from Greek phantastikos producing mental images, from phantazein to present to the mind.
1: Utter and total awesomeness, often accompanied with great happiness and mild inebriation.
Synonyms: Reesolicious, rocktacular

Monday, August 13, 2007

An official Missourian

As of this afternoon, I am officially a Missourian. Anyway, so I am now officially a Missouri resident because I got a MO drivers license this afternoon. I was especially impressed by how easy the process was. There was no line, and I was done with everything in less than 30 minutes.

I guess technically you could say I always have been one since I was born in MO, but I grew up on the Kansas side of the state line and there was always a bit of teasing between the kids that lived in MO vs those that lived in KS (for those of you that didn't know there is a Kansas City, MO and a Kansas City, KS separated by the state line). Although to many of you being from KS may not seem like something one would be proud of (after all our state board of education did outlaw teaching evolution and everyone thinks all there is in KS are farms, tornadoes, and Dorothy and the other characters from the Wizard of Oz), I am proud of KS. Especially in high school, it was better to be from KS than from MO because you got to drive earlier (you can get your learner's permit at 14 and a restricted license at 15, which allows you to drive to school and work by yourself, and in MO you can't get your permit until you're 15 or 15.5, I can't remember).

It's kind of funny how getting a small card can mean something. It really makes it seem real that I am starting this new part of my life, and i am going to be here for the next several years (I'm not really ready to start guessing the exact number, so we'll leave it at several). Furthermore, after such a fun summer, I'm really excited that I'll be here for a while. When I first told people I was applying or coming to WashU, some people were curious and even skeptical of what there was to do in St. Louis, but as hopefully this blog has at least partially described, there is a TON of stuff to do. Despite all of the exploring that we have done this summer, there is still so many things that we have not done and areas that we still need to explore. Anyway, we had our MSTP orientation this morning and then med school orientation starts tomorrow. Hopefully, it's not too boring, but at least it seems there will be lots of food and at least time to have fun at night.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A "non-WUMPers" view of WUMP week

This week did mark a definite change of pace from our usual summer antics as most of the new arrivals were eager to start exploring the city (especially the central west end, however we did venture to the Hill last night to play bocce ball)! I also was not able to do WUMP because of my summer research rotation, but it sounded like everyone really enjoyed it and I'm also a bit jealous of the different things that they got to do. However, having a few days between my research rotation and orientation was really nice to be able to get some stuff done before things got crazy again.

I'm definitely someone who kind of likes to ease into things, so it was nice to be able to meet another wave of new people before the whole med school class gets here. It's been really nice that everyone has been so excited and willing to explore the city, and hopefully that will continue throughout the year, although probably the pace of social events will be a bit slower (which I think my desire for sleep and bank account will appreciate). It's been really interesting how diverse the group is, and I am guessing that will also be true for the entire med school class.

I feel like these types of preorientation/orientation times are really interesting because everyone is meeting tons of new people and trying to make new friends, but it is such an extremely unusual social situation that I find it hard to really get to know what people will be like normally. However, there's really no rush since we'll be spending at least the next 2 years with all of the med school kids and 6-8 with all of the MSTPers.

**These are some pics from last night at Tom's Bar and Grill, which has karaoke on the weekends.

WUMP week

As mentioned earlier, things are bustling around here. We MSTPs and research-oriented meds have been up to our usual fun and games for the last month or so, but everything rapidly changed pace last Monday with the beginning of WUMP.

WUMP is the Washington University Medical Plunge, a weeklong foray into the world of medicine and serving the underprivileged. St. Louis offers a lot of chances to do this, from Planned Parenthood to shadowing a doctor at a prison, from a sexual abuse clinic to a homeless shelter. Only three MSTPs (that I know of) participated in WUMP this year, but had it not been for our lab rotations more of us would have applied. I really wanted to go see the correctional facility, but alas I had data to collect.

WUMP also gives you a head start on the social scene. The 40ish people participating in WUMP get to do the introduction and name learning a week earlier than the other meds, and any rotating MSTPs still in their labs may quickly find themselves out of the loop. WUMP is long in the daytime hours, but at night everyone goes out in one big group that for the most part has no cliques established yet and live like rockstars. It’s great. Yesterday we got about 40 people together in the 100 °F heat and played ultimate Frisbee for 2-3 hours. With a large group of intelligent people like this, it’d be hard for us to have anything but constant fun in a new city.

However, it seems that the uniform solidarity of the WUMP group lasts about a week, as last night I noticed the first evidence of cliques forming while we belted out our favorite songs at a karaoke bar. (Not that this is a terrible thing, as it’s pretty much guaranteed with a group larger than a dozen). With the MSTP orientation beginning tomorrow morning, a day earlier than the meds, the science geeks will be retiring a little earlier than previous nights. We’ll need the rest, too, for on Tuesday we will meet another 80 or so people that comprise the rest of our med school class. Alright, my phone is beeping with texts every few minutes because I am pulling together a dozen for dinner. Hopefully one of the other writers will be able to specifically write more about WUMP.

I haven't forgotten you

So I have been meaning to write all week… but the week kinda got in the way of that. WUMP! I wasn’t actually in WUMP, but it did mean that about 40 new students showed up. On top of that, we have a few new MSTP arrivals since Friday.

Tomorrow’s high is in the low 100’s, so staying in to give my WUMP week report will be a perfect excuse to stay in and soak up the AC. Well, that and the fact that I arrived home at 1:45 tonight and this was the earliest I have come home all week. Partying like that really takes a lot out of a fella.

If I don’t follow through, post a comment of scorn!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sicko of Sicko?

So we went to famous Blueberry Hill on Saturday night. I was shocked: the food was satisfying, the prices weren’t too high, the drinks weren’t extravagantly priced, and the music was low enough that I could actually converse with friends. Oh, and they have a dart range. Real darts, not crappy plastic ones. I’ll save you the boring “this is what we did” details; I’d rather just wrap it up by saying that we MSTPs have not been an exclusive group at all. I’ve spent time getting to know undergrads, MD students, grad students, and even a townie or two (e.g. Blueberry Hill night was a diverse group). I got the feeling from other places/MSTPs that it can sometimes get pretty segregated. Hopefully we keep this social scene open.

But on now to the main topic of this post: I went to go see Sicko with a med student and a CS grad student before going to Blueberry Hill. Let me start by saying that it is certainly worth seeing for us, the future doctors. Healthcare is a multi-faceted issue that needs attention; there are no two sides, no 3 sides, no 10 sides to it… and there are no easy answers to fixing our system. Sicko presents solutions taken in other countries (namely France, the UK, Canada, and Cuba) as obvious and easy. Moore relies on almost purely anecdotal evidence, and judging by the responses emitted by my fellow moviegoers, I would say that this was adequate to speak to most of the public. But I am a scientist, dammit! Where are the data, Mike? Where are your sources? How can you say with such confidence that A and B go beyond correlation into the realm of causation? Clearly, I had some issues with the film. For instance, he is quick to make connections such as “France has socialized health care, and the French live longer. Therefore, socialized healthcare is better.” Basically the film is loaded with Moore’s arguments that sound plausible but aren’t presented with a factual foundation. Are they still valid arguments? Some of them are, yes. Should a future doctor see the film? I believe they should. Should a scientist see the film? Yes, and try to accompany somebody who isn’t as used to thinking critically. Should you agree with Michael Moore? I can’t tell you that. But please, don’t just take his word for it.

Two weeks until orientation. I swear, entries will be much more MSTP-related. I swear. Maybe.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Calling a new place "home"

I went to school down in Texas, and I remember how odd it felt when I noticed 6-9 months into my freshman year that I was calling Houston it "home." I went home this weekend, and I felt the same odd feeling as I realized that I missed St. Louis and all of my new friends here. Definitely during college, I got used to the idea that I could have more than one "home," but I think that this seemed odd to me because I've been here for such a comparably short amount of time. I haven't decided if this is the result of the large amount of time that I spent in St. Louis as a child visiting family, or the warm/welcoming atmosphere of St. Louis and WashU. In reality, it's probably both.

On a separate note, it was quite glorious to be able to drive home (4hrs) and see my family without having to plan months in advance (as I always had to do to plan flights back from Houston). I could definitely get used to this! =)

On a less philosophical note, I thought that I would comment on a few points made by my fellow bloggers:
1) I really like my lab, and I have not had nearly the same problems as R has experienced in orienting myself and acclimating to my new surroundings; however, I am in a lab that is pretty much one large open space with our office very nearby. However, I have found that the post-doc that I work for, as well as the other people in my lab have been very friendly and helpful, which I think can really make or break a lab experience. It's weird that my rotation is already winding down, but I'm excited to get started and to meet everyone who has not been here this summer.
2) In terms of public transportation, I have been a bit disappointed as well, but more in terms of the schedule and duration of train service. KC doesn't really have any public transportation and Houston has a very limited lightrail system, so I've actually been quite pleased with the variety of areas that you can go on the metrorail. However, I don't like that late at night, the train only comes about every 20 minutes (although it seems to be quite prompt if you plan it) and that it only runs till about 12:30 am (althought if you're a real partier they do start back up around 4). This definitely makes it difficult to use the train when going out on the weekends. However, I have been using it to go to work everyday, which has been really nice!

Ok, well I guess that's all for now. I brought another load of stuff from KC to St. Louis, so I have a bit of unpacking to do.

PS. you northerners are wimps, and it's definitely not that hot or humid. although, I know i'll be whining once it gets cold, and then you can laugh at me. =)


Hi! I'm yet another incoming MD/PhD writing about my experiences. Unlike my fellow bloggers, I am not yet in St Louis, though in a few short weeks I'll be joining them. I'm excited to move down and get started, but thought that a break was definitely necessary before getting down to business. After four fairly intense years, I enjoyed having a few months off before having to buckle down again. Though it seems like a long time, it was cool to be able to travel (Ghana for six weeks!!!), finish things up at the lab (less than productive, but that's ok), and now pack and such. Things are winding down now, I've said my good-bye's and it's time to go! Wahoo!

Also unlike the others blogging here, I'll be living in the dorms for the next year, then hopefully buying a condo or such. I'm not terribly thrilled about living in the dorms, but for convenience's sake, it'll be ok for a year. It'll be nice to save some before having to furnish (let alone purchase!) a condo, and give me some time to look around and get to know the place.

A bit about me: I grew up in Indiana and have since moved to Michigan. I graduated from Michigan State University with a Biochemistry major. I worked in a Pharmacology and Toxicology lab for my first two years at State, where we used animal models to elucidate the mechanisms of cardiovascular drugs. Next, I worked in a Biochemistry lab that used computational biology to identify drug candidates for the treatment of lymphatic filariasis. I'm interested in staying involved in pharmacological research, but I'm not yet sure what avenues I'd like to pursue.

So, that's all for now!

1:6 Ratio

I’d like to share an anecdote I have been using with my fellow MSTPs in the last few days:

For every 1 minute of research I have done, I have spent 6 minutes looking for stuff or finding someone to ask.

Frustrating! I know that this comes with being new to any lab, but in my particular one the problem is inflated. First, the lab itself is the older, closed style. It occupies a series of rooms, each with one bench, a fume hood or two, a series of cabinets and drawers, and a computer. Four-ish people use each room, but at any given moment there is at most one occupant per room. Because everything is so compartmentalized, most of the constant-use stuff (tips, pipettes, tubes, etc.) is in each room but in entirely different places. Other equipment (like cryotubes, tissue culture bottles, repeater pipette stuff, stuff for the centrifuges/specs, etc) is spread out in different rooms. Which rooms? Well… I have no idea. There is no central list. There is some, but not enough, rhyme and/or reason to what goes where. The cryotubes should be with the huge stock of microcentrifuge tubes, PCR tubes, and culture tubes, right? Well yesterday I thought so, but for the life of me I couldn’t find them. On Saturday there’s nobody around to ask, so I looked for about half an hour before resulting to yoinking some from somebody’s personal stash and leaving a note of apology.

But on weekdays, it’s easy to ask, right? Wrong. Our offices, where everyone works up their data and does other science-related (or not science-related) computer stuff, is on the 3rd floor. The labs are in the basement. The transit time from B to 3 is long and usually results in somebody feeling the need to go with me back down to B to show me in lieu of just saying “top left shelf in the back of room 209”. This makes me reluctant to ask anything because I feel so bad about making them get up, go to the elevator, walk through the maze of hallways, and point to the shelf where the glycerol bottle is hidden away (there is not one but two chemical rooms, one for organic chem. and one for molecular bio, and only one organized A-Z! Gah!).

This is not an accurate picture of all research here. We are in an older building. I know that most of the newer labs are the open style: one huge room with rows and rows of benches, offices right around the corner, and a long line of all-purpose, multi-user shelves and storage. This is how my old undergrad lab was layed out and I loved it. Got a question? Stroll down the rows and ask. Or just yell. Either way, it saved oodles of time compared to running the stairs every hour or so. A good example is on the left (I just googled open lab.)

Don’t get me wrong, I like my current lab. In fact, I am already thinking of joining it when my pre-clinical stuff is through. How will I manage with the closed lab style? I won’t have to. There’s a new building in the mix and word has it that the MIR (the radiology institute of which my lab is a part) will be centralized there. Open labs for everyone! Groundbreaking is slated for later in the year, time of completion is spring of 2009 if my memory serves correct. Perfect timing for my graduate training to begin on a pristine, unused lab bench.

More on open vs closed labs, complete with pictures.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The "other" guys

Oh, and I have started watching the traffic stats for this blog and, to my dismay, we are actually being read! Hopefully that means some of you folks are/will be finding this helpful. Don’t forget we link to other MSTP blogs on the side panel on the right. You can ‘em check out if you want to know more about how each school does it differently, etc. Some more MSTP focused while others are more like personal journals for people who happen to be MSTP students. Either way, kill some time and read them. After you read ours, of course. Ours is probably the best*.

*not really

Not Good to Drive

I like the idea of a big city. More specifically, I like the idea of public transportation in a big city. I don’t know if I like transit systems that go beyond the hypothetical because I have sparse experience with them. Minneapolis got a light rail right as I left the Twin Cities so I never used it and in Madison you just walked. Everywhere. Nobody (students) used cars for anything other than going to work or to the grocery store. When you went out at night, it was on foot because everything was within reasonable walking distance.

That being said, the biggest thing to which I have had to issues adjusting is how St. Louis pretty much requires driving to get to the rich diversity of nightspots here and there aren’t any other good options. So… if you are going out for drinks, as we MSTPs have been often, this presents a problem. For the first time in my life I am actually concerned with things like DD’s, cab fares, and when the train stops running (the ONLY train, mind you, as StL has yet to make a nice rail system that covers most of the city.) Luckily, our schedules have so far worked out that somebody usually has to go into lab or do something else early the next morning. If that isn’t the case, there are also a few people in the WUSM class that hang out with us MSTP folk who don’t drink much/often for various reasons. They still come out and have fun, which is great, and they can drive us home at the end of it. If not, cabs aren’t too bad. From the Loop area to the Central West End, a cab will cost you about as much as a drink as long as there are 4 of you riding home. Still, I miss the days of roaming the streets in a small pack of jovial, inebriated peers.

I guess there’s just something eerily adult about going home in a car. Maybe it’s time to get used to that.

Really quick: The good, the bad, and the ugly. The StL dining selection, the washU IT department(s), and the heat of the afternoon at 3:30 or so.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Flashback to my interview at WashU: Andrew Richards (who is no longer an MSTP guy but a PhD guy) was telling us interviewees about the possibility of a summer rotation in a lab or two and that about half of the MSTPers take it their first year. Back then, there was NO chance that I was going to do any such thing. Why the hell would anyone want to sacrifice their last summer before 7-9ish years of schooling began in order to sit another 2 months at a lab bench? No thank you. I’d rather work my relaxing undergraduate jobs, go out every night with my friends, etc. I wanted to milk my last summer for all its worth.

Well, I write this from my new apartment in StL. My rotation starts on Monday. Why the change of heart? Well, over the months between my interview and my graduation things were changing:

-I wasn’t enjoying my old apartment as much. Tensions between the 3 girls I lived with were rising constantly and it made living alone in StL much more attractive

-My undergraduate research project had been dragging on and on for months. It was supposed to be published over a year before I graduated, but it wasn’t yet. This was a real morale killer at the lab.

-Honestly, I was beginning to become partied out. I lived it up quite a bit my final semester and my wallet/liver were feeling it. They didn’t need to spend an extra 2 months doing the same.

-I realized how stressful it might be to learn a new city while learning about a billion other new things in my first semester as a med student.

-Early stipend = money to buy books and stuff.

So, here I am. Excited? You bet. Regret leaving my home early? Not at all. Plus, my apartment turned out to be pretty sweet. That certainly didn’t hurt the situation at all.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Life in St. Louis

So, I've been living in St. Louis for about 2 weeks now, so I thought that it was time for a post.

I decided to buy a condo, and I found a great one-bedroom in the DeBaliviere area, which is just North of Forest Park, right by the metro stop. It was a bit overwhelming and stressful to buy a condo, but I think that a large part of that was that I found a condo and purchased in less than a month. But everything is really coming together, and I am really glad that I did it.

I started my rotation about 2 weeks ago and it has been going very well. I've really enjoyed the people in the lab and my PI, which I think can really make or break a lab. My project is starting to get going, which is also exciting. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some results before the end of my rotation.

I've also been hanging out with a lot of other new MSTPs and some other MS1s, who have been really nice and really fun to hang out with. We've been exploring the CWE and we've found some pretty fun places. We also spent an afternoon in Forest Park, which is just amazing. I keep hearing about other fun stuff that goes on in St. Louis during the summer, like Jazz in the Botanical Gardens and concerts by the arch, and the best part is that most of it is FREE!

I'm really excited for the rest of the summer as well as the beginning of the school year!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Greetings from Kansas!

As a fellow member of this year's MSTP entering class at WashU, I thought I would share a little bit about myself.

I'm also 22 years old, and I just graduated from Rice University in Houston, TX. I just arrived back in Overland Park, KS* today after a two day drive from Houston, and I am definitely glad to be out of the car! I was born and raised in the Kansas City metro area, but I actually spent a fair amount of time in St. Louis growing up because my mom is from there, and we have family that still lives there. I have three older siblings (2 brothers and a sister) and a dog that I might bring with me to St. Louis.

It was kind of bittersweet leaving Houston because I really enjoyed my time there, but I'm really excited about moving to St. Louis in a few weeks!

*For those that care, Overland Park is a suburb of Kansas City. I live in Kansas, but I actually live closer to Kansas City, MO than to Kansas City, KS (and yes there are two). And just because I know you might be wondering: I don't live on a farm, I don't know Dorothy or Toto, I do have indoor plumbing, and the closest I have ever been in a tornado was actually in Houston. =)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

First entry!

So this marks the obligatory first blog post where you often read things like "just testing out the new blog" or "about me: ..."

I am starting this to see if we as an entering MSTP class can provide future MSTP/med school hopefuls with some info on WashU, MSTP life, medical school, St. Louis, etc. This is not affiliated with the school or any program therein, just me and (hopefully) a few more students of the incoming MSTP 2007 class. Who knows, maybe we will keep writing over the entire 8-ish years of our MSTP careers. I doubt it… I hear we will be pretty busy with all that learnin. But you can’t blame a guy for trying.

So yes, I am just testing out the new blog. How about a little about me? I’m 22 and just about to finish the last 3 finals of my tedious undergraduate career at UW-Madison. I was born and raised in the “Midwest”, but we mostly just call it the North where I come from. I grew up in what started in a smallish town and became a largish suburb before moving to Madison, WI for 4 years.

We’ll see who else I can coerce into writing here.