Falling in love with biology all over again!

Falling in love with biology all over again!

For then last several weeks, I have been procrastinating about my upcoming comprehensive exam. I lost my motivations and interest in biology after reading articles. I was trying to find motivations to help me get back to my studying again. Until I ran across the 2013 Royal Institute Christmas Lecture last night and started watching the talks from Dr. Alison Woollard about “Life Fantastic”. I am totally inspired by the passion she has for developmental biology field and the way she presented her materials! I love how she explained complex materials such as epigenetics as a light switch turning on/off the gene expression! This video is totally worth watching.





On the University of Wyoming’s main webpage

On the University of Wyoming’s main webpage


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What is Agent Orange?


Agent Orange is one of the herbicides used during the Vietnam War from 1961 – 1971. It is a mixture of 2,4 – Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5 – Trichlorophenoxyacid acid (2,4,5-T). The name Agent Orange for this herbicide mixture came from orange band painted along the side of 55 gallon drums where this chemical mixture were stored.  Due to massive production of this chemical mixture, the control procedure of this chemical mixture was poorly designed. Therefore, it was contaminated with 2,3,7,8 – tetracholodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD).


Source: Photograph VA020611,  Undated, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 14 Nov. 2013.

International Research Showcase at the University of Wyoming


It has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog. As those of you who had been in school before would expect, this is the time of a semester that every students (and yes even graduate students!) are swamped with presentations, exams and projects. And for me, I have been busy with helping students preparing for their exams, preparing for my own presentations and also fighting with a viral infection for the last 4 days (“good timing”?). But at least, this is my last semester of taking courses. I will hopefully finish my course work after this semester. Yeah!!! 

Today is a very special day for me; since it is the beginning of the International Research Showcase, part of the International Education Week event at the University of Wyoming (UW). The idea of organizing this event is all started on April 2013 while attending the Internationalization Award. After talking to one of the recipients of the awards, I was inspired by her work on human trafficking and thought that it would be such a good idea to share such research work UW students are doing around the world. And with much help and support from Dr. Anne Alexander, Ms. Ruth Shepherd, Ms. Jill Johnson and the International Student Association’s officials, I was able to organize this event, International Research Showcase. And of course, this event will not happen without our awesome presenters. 

And today, I have learnt so much from our presenters such as research on saving endangered antelopes in Kenya to ethnoarchaeological research on understanding the household demography and use-areas of Nomadic peoples, specifically Mongolian, to research related to New Zealand rugby players, vitamin D and insulin-like growth factor -1 (IGF-1). What an amazing work that these researchers are doing at UW!!! GO POKES!

And here is the program for this event! 


Rejection for publication !!!

Ok! It is hard to admit any rejections. But my first news this morning was the outright rejection from a journal that I submitted my paper few weeks ago. After reading, re-reading and re-reading the editor’s decision, I searched for how often it is for any researchers to receive rejection from journals and how I should handle this situation. I came across this website “Diabetologia — Rejection: what next?” And one of the sentences mentioned in this website that help lifting my mood up is “Having your first paper turned down is an important life experience for all researchers.“ I sure hope it is right. Looking at this situation, I appreciate that I receive rejection decision for my first time submitting the paper. It is sure unpleasant to receive such a news, but it is a wake-up call for me that I should put more efforts and pay more attention in details for my research.

My first thing to do tomorrow is re-reading and analyze my manuscript again. :-)

A quest of finding PhD research topic


Here I am feeling discourage already at the beginning step of finding PhD research topic. No funding! And my previous idea was already published last year 😦

So I am back to the first step. I am trying to motivate myself by challenging myself to follow this guideline of “Finding a Topic and Beginning Research”

My goal toward practicing these suggestions: ”

Becoming an active reader and listener via asking yourself these canonical questions:

  • From where did the author seem to draw the ideas?
  • What exactly was accomplished by this piece of work?
  • How does it seem to relate to other work in the field?
  • What would be the reasonable next step to build upon this work?
  • What ideas from related fields might be brought to bear upon this subject

Set aside some time every week for trying to generate research ideas. Some possible catalysts are

  • Make a weekly effort to read at least the abstracts from the premier journals in your field. Choose an article or two to read in depth and critique.
  • Make a weekly search to find preprints in your field. Read selectively and critique.
  • Attend a research seminar or colloquium series. Listen and critique.

Keep a written log of technical reading and listening. Review it periodically to see if some of the ideas begin to fit together.

The good thing is I already have my written log of technical reading using Skim and Scrivener. And hopefully I can find a good research topic. Off I go!

Maps for dioxin contamination levels in Vietnam

Maps for dioxin contamination levels in Vietnam

PDF files of maps identified the level of dioxin contamination in Vietnam reported by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2013.

PS: The map and legends are in Vietnamese