Hey, I Finished Grad School

Okay, so I graduated from my graduate program. I almost officially have a PhD. There are a couple of formalities left to observe, but in practical terms, I did it.

I haven’t done the best job over these years of documenting my journey for anyone who’s interested in knowing how a PhD program in the sciences works, especially for subjects like molecular biology, genetics, etc. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to give an overview of how this kind of journey happens, in the United States in particular.

Classes and rotations. Yay, you got accepted. For the first year or two, you’ll have classes to try to get you to a general background on your topic. You’ll also be doing rotations the first year–meaning that you’ll work for a shorter period of time in a few labs on a few small projects (maybe a semester per lab). After that, you’ll make the decision to commit to one lab for however many years it takes to graduate. Continue reading “Hey, I Finished Grad School”

Terrestrial Magic Has a Cover and Release Date

The ebook of my novel Terrestrial Magic–originally posted as a web serial, plus almost 7,000 words of bonus content–will be available on January 17th, 2019. The print version will be available from Amazon in the near future as well, and possibly other stores. The ebook is currently up for pre-order at a discount price. 

And of course, the cover:

A woman sits on a motorcycle on a dark, deserted road. The words read "Terrestrial Magic, Marina Ermakova."

Science in Media: Handling Medicines Without the Proper Understanding of Dosage

Haven’t done one of these in a while. But there’s this scene, in Stranger Things 2, that struck me enough that I had to talk about it.

Basically, you have a character with no medical or pharmacological experience whatsoever, filling up a syringe with an unspecified drug (to put patients to sleep) and injecting a child with it. (At least twice in about a day, actually.) My immediate thought upon seeing that was, “well, if it were real life, she’s probably just killed this kid.” Continue reading “Science in Media: Handling Medicines Without the Proper Understanding of Dosage”

Passengers: Shouldn’t be Marketed as a Sci-Fi/Romance if It’s Gonna Be This Creepy

Two people's faces, above an image of a ship in space. The words read "Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Passengers."
Image: Sony Pictures

Genre: Sci-fi/Romance

Synopsis: Jim and Aurora are passengers on a starship, kept in stasis inside hibernation pods during the journey. When they arrive at their destination, a good century would have passed, and they’d have reached a distant world. Except they wake up too early. 90 years too early. Without the ability to put themselves back to sleep, they’re looking at the rest of their lives spent alone, aboard the ship… Continue reading “Passengers: Shouldn’t be Marketed as a Sci-Fi/Romance if It’s Gonna Be This Creepy”

Sci-Fi for Capturing the Imagination with Detail-Oriented Debate

Today I want to bring up two pieces of media, a book and a movie, that do a great job with something I don’t see tackled in fiction very often–they delve into the complex details behind the big picture, and make them interesting. They form a story around those details, instead of making it all about the big picture.

Character conflict and personalities are used to engage the audience with the narrative. Meanwhile, focusing on the complexities instead of sidelining them make the stories feel like they belong in a world as complicated as our own. Both of them managed to pull me in by appealing to my sense of curiosity. So it’s fitting for me to talk about both in one post, given that they share their strengths. Continue reading “Sci-Fi for Capturing the Imagination with Detail-Oriented Debate”

Science in Media Roundup: Artistic License with Medical Safety and Loaded Terminology

More science in TV, and as expected, most of it has issues. So, what in recent television is not quite as portrayed?

(video)

The Catch: In a case of the week episode, the private investigation firm goes up against a pharmaceutical company being sued for a clinical trial gone wrong. A drug trial ended with 16 patients in the ICU, and the firm’s client suspects that the previous trial must have had adverse reactions as well, which were covered up. In the end, it turns out the the lead clinician in charge of the trial deliberately sabotaged it because the medicine wasn’t working and he wanted to start from scratch to develop something that would work (as his wife suffered from the condition the drug was meant to treat, MS.) Continue reading “Science in Media Roundup: Artistic License with Medical Safety and Loaded Terminology”

Broken Age: A Different Take on the Hero/Victim Dichotomy

broken-age-walkthrough
Image: Double Fine Games via Video Games Blogger

Genre: Point-and-click adventure/sci-fi

Synopsis: Vella is chosen for the honor of the Maiden’s Feast, a ceremony vital to the safety of the village. But something feels wrong, and Vella finds herself wondering if the way they’d all been taught to live is really the only option… Continue reading “Broken Age: A Different Take on the Hero/Victim Dichotomy”

Science in Media: Agent Carter Season 2’s Surprisingly Refreshing Points About the Nature of Experimentation

I recently spoke about my feelings on the second season in general, but the way this show thinks about science is worth its own post. Because in this regard, the show generally exceeded my expectations. Without further ado, the things I noticed about the show’s attitude towards scientific inquiry: Continue reading “Science in Media: Agent Carter Season 2’s Surprisingly Refreshing Points About the Nature of Experimentation”