Monday, February 13, 2012

A Day in the life of Jessica

This week we have A Monday in the Life of Jessica! The "A Day in the Life of" series will showcase one blogger each week for seven weeks. Make sure to check out last week's post  if you missed it. The series is meant to give us a glimpse into each others' lives... the parts we might not normally show or might not fit the 'theme' of our blogs. It's also meant to help us get to know each other even more, to inspire us, and to let us know that life isn't quite as glamorous as blogs make them out to be :). I found Jessica's post interesting for a few reasons, but namely because I always wondered (afraid, from afar) just what exactly scientists did with rats!

is a general post because last week was terribly boring. I literally sat
at my desk and wrote. I even ate lunch at my desk.
I wake up each morning around 6:45 to take the dogs out, feed them, and
get breakfast ready for The Fisherman. This happens whether or not I set
an alarm--Daisy jumps on me if I sleep in late!

I always have grand plans to stay awake, get ready, eat breakfast and tidy
the house before I leave for work. In reality, I usually end up snuggling
into bed until The Fisherman leaves at 7:30. By then, I'm rushing to get
ready to go. I always forget to pack a lunch (and sometimes breakfast)
until the last minute. I hate coming home to a messy house, so I do the
dishes and hang up clothes before I leave. I've put my make-up on in the
car so many times that now I just don't bother to bring it in the house.

If I'm good, I'm out the door by 8:15 and can go to Daily Mass at 8:30.
(This happens about twice a week.) I roll into work at about 9:15. I have
my own desk in an actual office, which is nicer than working in the lab
bench rooms with the chemicals. I usually chat with my labmates for a
little while before starting to work. We are all excellent
procrastinators, so it's not hard to find someone to shoot the breeze
with. :)

My daily tasks vary a lot. Lately, I've been sitting on my butt writing my
paper, researching journal articles, analyzing data and making graphs.
Other times, I'm on my feet all day running experiments. Here's a few
  • I test learning and memory in adult rats by having them
    navigate a water maze.
    I actually stopped running these experiments
    in November, and I'm quite happy about it. Wet rats are smelly.
  • I collect brain slices from neonatal rats for tissue culture about
    twice a month. I dissect out the hypothalami and place them in culture
    dishes for a week, during which time I treat the tissues with various
  • I mount the brain tissue sections on slides to stain for various
    proteins or mRNAs. The staining processes take about two full days, not
    including the analysis. Measuring the intensity of the mRNA signal in the
    , that can take another few days.
  • Processing blood samples to measure stress hormone levels in the
    plasma. This takes one full day to run, then another day to analyze.
I run about two experiments a week, because many of them take a full day
of preparation, too. It can get lonely running experiments or writing in
solitude so it's nice to socialize. My labmates and I usually eat lunch
together and spend time chatting throughout the day. On "Fun Food
Fridays," we go out to eat. It's fun to try new places with them, and get
a break from leftovers. (Hey, we're all broke scientists and eating out is

My boss meets with each lab member weekly to go over experiments and data.
Sometimes I have a lot to show her, but other times I'm scrambling to
appear productive. Every other week, we have a lab meeting where one of us
presents either their own research or gives an overview of an interesting
topic. I presented this Thursday on endocannabinoids--it went
well, no criticism but no accolades. Mandatory meetings are never fun, so
I don't blame anyone for being bored.

I like to leave lab no later than 5:30. It's my responsibility to take the
dogs out and feed them, and then start to make dinner. Lately, The
Fisherman comes home and goes straight to play basketball with the
neighbors, so we eat after he's done (or I just snack anyways). If that
happens, I usually putz around online or read non-work things--I try not
to work at home unless there's pressing deadlines. Every once in a while,
I'll actually go to the gym and run for a little bit, but not as often as
I should!

We're in bed by midnight, but The Fisherman insists on watching movies to
fall asleep. I never had a TV in the bedroom, so I've adapted to with
earplugs and a reading light. Marriage is about compromise!

Jessica is the happy wife of The Fisherman. She’s an almost-Catholic
neuroscience PhD student. She blogs at Grumbling & Gratitude when
she’s not juggling experiments or playing with her two little poodles,
Daisy and Charley.


  1. Great blog! Now following! I also am trying to do NFP...can't wait to hear more :)
    God Bless!