A Publication! (and other news)

by Lorien E. Menhennett

I know I haven’t posted in a while; things have been pretty crazy lately. This semester, my last semester as a post-baccalaureate pre-medical student, has definitely been my most difficult. Statistics is a breeze thus far, but biochemistry and organic chemistry II are definitely keeping me on my toes.

We had our first biochem exam a couple of weeks ago, and I was not looking forward to it. (That’s putting it lightly.) We had covered a lot of complex material about enzyme kinetics, and other protein-related information, and my professor had not covered it effectively, in my view. So there was much confusion about what would actually be tested on the exam. But I made out like a bandit (albeit a very hard-working bandit) – 94%, the highest grade in the class! I was quite pleased, but also felt I quite deserved the grade because I worked my butt off studying for that test.

I have an organic chemistry exam this coming Thursday, and so that will be my focus this week. We are currently studying techniques that help you determine the formula and structure of a compound (mass spec, IR, and NMR). It’s quite interesting, honestly, and a nice break from all of the reactions. But I know all of those reactions will be tested on our upcoming exam – my professor (whom I adore; she is a fantastic teacher) is an organic chemist, and highly emphasizes synthesis. I have made charts with all the reactions we have learned thus far, both by starting material (i.e., all the reactions you can do with an alkene) and by final product (i.e., all the ways to make an alcohol). We have, literally, studied dozens of reactions across the two semesters of this class! It is definitely a challenge to keep them straight in my head, especially when there are three or four reagents you have to use in a reaction, and when the synthesis requires more than three steps.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel! My spring break is next week, which will be a nice reprieve. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to a Drosophila genetic conference over break, which will be a nice change of pace from school.

And as the title of this current blog post suggests, I will soon have a publication! The professor with whom I am working on the Drosophila larvae research is presenting a poster at the genetics conference next week. Last Thursday, he told me that my name will be on the poster! I was quite pleasantly surprised, because in no way did I expect to get a publication of any sort out of my work with him this semester. But he told me that I absolutely deserved it, with all of the great data I have generated (which will be presented on the poster). It will be a proud moment when I am at the conference next week and I tell people I meet, “Oh yes, I am working on Drosophila research this semester related to the genetics of odor receptors and larval behavior. My professor and I have a poster here at the conference. You should go see it, it’s quite interesting.”

While it’s quite exciting, in and of itself, to have a publication, it will also be quite helpful for my medical school application efforts. MD / PhD admissions committees really want applicants to have some sort of publication, so being able to put this on my application will be quite wonderful. The fact that the poster is being presented at an international conference doesn’t hurt!

I’m also quite excited about the possibility of whom I might meet at the conference. At the suggestion of the conference organizers, I have even printed up business cards for myself so that I’m not scrawling my name and e-mail address on scratch paper in the event that I meet someone I want to contact later.

Well, that’s all the news for now. Back to studying …