Friday, December 17, 2010

Replications

A common theme within science is repeatability. Are you able to get that same result more than once? How do different variables effect your outcome? As most of you know, I work with the lovely Drosophila melanogaster. I have to admit that when I first starting working with them 2 years ago, I was a bit squeamish about them and thought my PI was the oddest person ever for talking about how beautiful / cute bugs were. Let me admit that I now say the same things over and over again.

Anyway my point is that in terms of replication I really only need to repeat an experiment 2 times. I used genetic crosses and stain about a shit load of progeny at a single time. In a single cross I"ll have the progeny of >15 different matings and stain about 15 experimental animals. I will then usually redo the cross with fresh parents another time or two to with make sure that the results are due to the genetic manipulation I've done and to get cleaner images (not pretty, cleaner ie less background, better tissues etc).  Other times I'll be trouble shooting and once I've worked out the conditions, I will do stuff 2 times to make sure the result is true. I''m the first to admit that if the result is unexpected, I'm apt to repeat multiple times, just to be sure.

The thing is, I work on short time lines. Its easy to troubleshoot as you know your results quickly and can adjust for errrors in the protocol? I always wonder about longer term or epidemiological type studies. I've been reading alot about vitamin intake levels and how long terms studies have had to be halted because of increased mortality risks. A well publicized trial by NIH into  estrogen replacement therapy was halted because the increased health risks were too great.  I wonder how did they determine their protocols? How does once troubleshoot when the effects won't be seen till years down the road?

I often joke that my monkey is my own little experiment. In a sense he is, because we're raising him very differently than the way either  myself or Mr.SM were raised. From his nutrition and activity levels, to the way he is disciplined and engaged with us and his surroundings. Whether this will result in more well-balanced and less crazy adult then either  of us are (or our parents) is unknown.  Have we made "grave" errors in our protocol that be won't known for a few years either? So how do make adjustments in our plan or do we just keep doing what we're doing with number 2? From the data, monkey seems like an easy going happy little boy (other than constantly escaping daycare...thats another post).  So I guess that means we're on the right track and have nothing to worry about.  Well at least thats what I'm going with . Number 2 will be our repeat experiment, though he/she does have the added variable of a mischievous older sibling. 

In case I was a bit unclear up top. Yep in 9 months I will be raising my own little experimentS. Which is why I've been silent on the whole blogging front lately. I've had 0 energy....

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congrats :)

Prof-like Substance said...

Congrats, hopefully the energy will pick up again soon.

Becca said...

Awww! Congrats! You'll have to have a new moniker- a vague *attempt* at replication is all fine and dandy, but you might possibly warp a child by thinking of it (perpetually) as monkey#2.

Also, I think this cements my desire to work with drosophila. I'm tired of poor mousies.

ScientistMother said...

Anon - thanks
PLS - the energy is slowing getting better, but the second time around is so much harder bc monkey needs my attention....

Becca - Hahaha! As a third child myself, I would never do that. Monkey earned his moniker as he IS a monkey. I figure #2 will earn theirs as well :)

Arlenna said...

congrats SM!! Don't feel bad about quiet blogging, I'm impressed that you have kept up so well with ONE going on, I am certainly not managing as productively as that. Sending good thoughts for your energy levels, too!

Ambivalent Academic said...

congrats scimo!!!!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Yay, woohoo, congratulations!

Maybe you'll have identical twins. That way one of them can be the control!

GMP said...

Wonderful news! Congratulations!

chall said...

Congrats!! How fun to read. Hope you feel less tired once the second trimester kicks in... or so I've heard?!

I guess if number two breaks out of day care too it might be hard to say if it is an inherent skill or trained ;)

Isis the Scientist said...

Yay! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Congratulations!

ScientistMother said...

Arlenna - you have to remember, I'm not a PI so my work load is slightly less :) though I think that this addition will change that.

AA - thanks

Cath - one of my colleagues, joked that I may be having twins bc I've started showing quite early. I told her I would jump out the window if that happened. I always wanted twin boys and now I think OMG what if there were 2 monkeys working together?!

GMP/Isis/Anon - thanks

Chall - environmental influences? possibly, but I'm blaming monkey if #2 does the same things. Or their dad. I was an angel child :)

Girlpostdoc said...

YEAHHH!!! Congrats!

The bean-mom said...

Oh, wow, CONGRATS!!!

EcoGeoFemme said...

Congratulations! What great news!

When are you due?

biochembelle said...

Congrats, SM :)

unlikelygrad said...

Wow! Congratulations!

When I had my first I swore I would not use the TV as a babysitter. Then I got pregnant with my second, and the only way I could ever nap was to put #1 in front of the TV. I can't imagine doing grad school at the same time!

ScienceGirl said...

Congratulations! It will be fun to hear how 'repeatable' your experiments really are ;)

Alyssa said...

How the heck did I miss this?? Congrats!!!

Amelie said...

Belated congrats!!

Micro Dr. O said...

Thank goodness PlS was on it - I TOTALLY missed this announcement. Congrats!!!! :)