Finally a Scruffy-Looking Nrf1a Herder

Was the title confusing?

I apologize for the forced Star Wars pun, but I’m finding it hard to contain my excitement for the recent progress I’ve made in my study of the role of Nfe-related CNC bZIP factors in oxidative stress as induced by MEHP. (That title is slightly rehearsed, as I just recently gave my student seminar on my thesis project to the Biological Chemistry Program). I have successfully completed the work necessary to surpass the point in my project that I was at when I learned that a great deal of my work would need to be repeated. I’ve now been able to morphologically score Nrf3 morphants and Nfe2 KD cohorts exposed to MEHP chronically for 96 hours. Starting this weekend, I’ll carry out a study that is new to me and was originally performed by my predecessor, Nancy Tran. I’ll begin by microinjecting a group of embryos with a Nrf1a morpholino in order to prepare them for dosing and morphological scoring. However, before I proceed to discuss where I’ll be going, I should talk more about what I’ve completed. For each cohort that I’ve scored, I’ve prepared dehydrated embryo to be sent out for histological analysis, and I’ve prepared flash frozen samples for transcriptional expression analysis by qPCR. I’ve slowly but steadily filled several slots in a small cardboard freezer box with vials of these flash-frozen fish, and each time I’ve placed one in the box, I’ve gotten a small taste of the satisfaction of completion.


As a senior, and to be honest, throughout most of my college career, I am and have been fixated on moving forward. In this last semester, I look forward to attempting to get a job for next year. I look forward to completing my finals and securing my requirements for my major. I look forward to the next and final steps of my thesis. In general, we as a society view this sort of forward-thinking as a positive thing. However, I’ve recently discovered that in many cases this forward momentum has stopped me from, for lack of a better phrase, stopping and smelling the roses. I, for example, often keep interactions in the dining hall short and superficial in order to move forward to my next goal in my academics. While some may view this as efficient, I’m starting to wonder if it may be counter-productive. Maybe if I’m always rushing toward some perceived exit, I’ll someday reach the destination I was aiming for and discover it was a dead end. This realization really came about as a result of my need to step-back and repeat a great deal of the scoring that I had done last semester. However, something positive came from this repetition. I’m now more confident in the results that I have been able to secure through this second take. I think I’ve found that eliminating my tunnel vision for an exit or a point of progression could improve my performance as a student of science as well as my appreciation for the activities I’m involved in. Whether I’m moving forward or backward any type of learning is progress. Therefore I may just take a step back, make a few Star Wars puns, and reflect on what I’ve done, instead of strictly anticipate what I’m about to do.

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