Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The chosen one

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the extracellular matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

I love the biology comics/drawings from this guy (the guy behind this one is also the author of this:-))


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Photomicrographer: Donna Stolz, University of Pittsburgh, United States
Specimen: Mammalian cell collage stained for various proteins and organelles, assembled into a wreath (200-2000X). Technique: Single slice confocal cell mosaic. 
Image: Courtesy of Nikon Small World

PS. I think I will take a break from all the science. I'll be back in January.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The perfect gift:-)

PS. The Guess What challenges will resume in January.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Perversity of the Universe

Say hello to first reader submission. Yay:-) 
I love the quote:-)

Thanks to MM for sending me this.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coolest. Christmas. Tree. EVER.

I think we agree that our lab tree is the coolest Christmas tree ever.

Foto: Mojca

Happy holidays everyone!


Improved fluorescent proteins

Sorry for posting all these papers:-) I promise this is the last one for some time. The whole story is available here.

Yellow is my favorite. Thanks to T. for sharing this.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sperm Comets

This is Ljubljana (my home town) in December. Its beautiful.

Foto: Dusan Jez

Foto: Lidija Berke


Look whats hiding among all the lights and decorations.


Some chromosomes.

Egg and sperm.

Foto: Dusan Jez
And an embryo with a red heart.


(source for the rest of the photos)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Legendary abstract

This abstract is legen-wait for it-dary ;)

And another one

When will my publications be this cool:-)

PS. I have a couple of awesome Christmas posts prepared for you.


Grad students don't have time for boys

A girl was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to her and said, "If you kiss me, I`ll turn into a handsome prince".

She bent over, picked up the frog and put it in her pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a handsome prince, I will stay with you for one week."
The girl took the frog out of her pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a prince, I`ll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want."
Again the girl took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into her pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I`ve told you I`m a handsome prince, that I`ll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won`t you kiss me?"

The girl said, "Look, I`m a graduate student. I don`t have time for boys ... but a talking frog, now that`s cool!"

So true:-)



Monday, December 12, 2011

You know you're ... part II

                                                                                                                                                 Foto: Mojca

... a biologist/biotech

Read Part I here.

§  When you ask your husband/wife to pull the food out of the minus 20 degrees.
§  When you place your Christmas gifts into tip boxes for easy wrapping.
§  When you think 12-well plates are great to make pralines.
§  When you misread praline for proline.
§  You spike your hot sauce with pure capsaicin from Sigma.
§  When Southern does not mean comfort and western is your world.
§  When you notice that DNA in a stupid cartoon is written in the wrong orientation and you even let everyone know this in comments:-).
§  When you use ubiquitous to describe general facts when talking with your family or friends.
§  When you have Giant Microbes covering every square inch of free shelf space in your office.
§  When you refer to people having phenotypes as if that is a normal description for people’s behaviors or characteristics.
§  When you say sucrose instead of sugar.
§  When you never consider that milk powder can be used in coffee.
§  When you use n of 1 or n of 2 in casual conversation.
§  When you print/say “H2O” ‘cause it’s faster.
§  When you say “protocol” instead of recipe.
§  When you disregard science toys for children ‘cause they aren’t difficult enough.
§  When you consider what 20% ethanol would taste like.
§  When you label things in your home fridge with the date you opened them using a sharpie.
§  When you wear latex gloves and a surgical gown so that you don’t contaminate the mice.
§  When you end your emails with “good luck with your research” instead of best regards.
§  When you stir your coffee with sterile (or nonsterile, depends on how hard core you are) pipet.
§  When you wish you had Parafilm for use in the kitchen (hmm, kitchen and lab obviously have a lot in common).
§  When you leave the soup ‘overnight’ to make it taste better.
§  When you put the cake in the oven to incubate for an hour.
§  When you get excited about sex life of yeast.
§  When you have had parties and used conical tubes to hold shots.
§  When you think the PCR song is kind of catchy.
§  When you’ve used kimwipes as tissues.
§  When you've used, "I'd like to get into your genes" as a pickup line.
§  When you say your back is aching because you have been in the hood all day.
§  When you begin to think in microliters instead of the normal, larger system.
§  When you've suppressed the urge to shoot pipette tips across the room.
§  It feels like Christmas when the department gets new equipment.
§  When you wear more latex than porn stars.
§  When you begin to think that L broth smells like chicken soup.
§  When you step back to admire your gels.
§  When you develop a preference for certain brands of pipettes.

Read Part I here.

Share your ideas in comments, maybe we can make part III of this post.


Sunday, December 11, 2011


Wanna share a funny joke/fact/news/cartoon?

Send me an email ( and I will post it here.

Don't be afraid to email me, I don't bite.

                                                                                                                                           Foto: K.

And the part II of You know you're a biologist post will be up tomorrow.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guess what - Challenge no. 2

Thanks for all the responses to the last week's riddle. You' re awesome and all of you were right.:-)

This one is hopefully a little harder (and a really tough one is coming next Saturday <evil laugh>).

Without further ado, tell me whats on the photo.

Foto: Mojca

You can check out the previous challenge here.

And as usual, the answer will be posted here next weekend.

Update! Sorry for my late update, but I was totally busy in the last few days because Im moving back to Slovenia. Yes, my work in USA is done, Im finally going back home.

So, none really guessed what is on the photo, some of you were close.

It was Erlenmeyer flask in the sink full of dry ice.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

20 Strange Papers

... probably from the minds of sexually frustrated grad students

My only thought after watching this: why doesn’t she have a vagina?


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pancake Organelles - Now That's a Dedication!

Can you recognize them:-) The last one is DNA.

Z., thanks for these:-) Im sure they were delicious.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weekends in the lab

Weekends in the lab are always a little weird. 

This Saturday I decided to work on some PCRs and while listening to my favorite band on my iPod I walked towards the ice machine to get a bucket of ice.

There it is, at the end of the hallway, sitting next to the nitrogen tank.

I open the lid, ready to grab some ice and my hand stops mid-air. WHAT the ...!?

Close up.

Foto: Mojca

Needles to say that this totally made my day:-) Also, true story:-)


Its My Life!

Ph. Diddy is in da lab!

Acknowledgements: This video is inspired by all the dedicated everyday-heroes-of-science. We recognize your passion and admire your perseverance!

Thanks to D. for sending me the link. 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guess what - Challenge no. 1

Anybody wants to play a little game?
 Every Saturday I will show you a photo of something (un)usual from the lab. Your task is to figure out what it is. The first who gets it right is the king of the lab:-)

Lets start with something easy today:-) So, whats on the photo?

Foto: Mojca
Answer will be posted here next week.

Update: Yes, you are right it is a Coomassie stained dried out PAGE gel. Congrats!
PS. Frozen in liquid nitrogen? Interesting idea:-)


Another one about safety

Not really lab related but so cool.

(I dont remember the source, just google it if you are interested:-))


Friday, December 2, 2011

Life Decisions

Well, thats my opinion. What is yours?

And since we are talking about decisions to go to grad school - some useful reading:-)


Thursday, December 1, 2011


Programmed cell death - HeLa cells expressing GFP targeted to the Golgi apparatus (yellow) are stained to reveal the distribution of microtubules (red) and cell nuclei (blue).

PS. When will my ICC photos look like this?



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seeking romance

#1 I’ve been single-stranded too long! Lonely ATGCATG would like to pair up with congenital TACGTAC.

#2 Menage a trois! Ligands seeks two receptors into binding and mutual phosphorylation. Let’s get together and transduce some signals.

#3 Some dates have called me a promotor. Others have referred to me as a real operator. Personally, I think I’m just a cute piece of DNA who is still looking for that special transcription factor to help me unwind.

#4 Highly sensitive, orally active small molecule seeks stable well-structured receptor who knows size isn’t everything.

#5 There must be a rational way to meet a date! I’m tired of hanging out in those molecular diversity bars, hoping to randomly bump into the right peptide. I want a molecule that will fit right onto my active site and really turn me on. I’ll send you my crystal structure if you send me yours!

#6 Gene therapy graduate. After years of producing nothing but gibberish, I’ve shed my exons and ready to express my introns. All I need is a cute vector to introduce me to the right host.

#7 My RNA, I’m sorry I misread your UAAUAAUAA and inserted three tyrosine’s when you repeatedly asked me to stop. Something got lost in the translation. Please forgive me.

#8 Naked DNA with sticky ends seeks kanamycin-resistant plasmid. EcoR1 sites preferred.

#9 Uninhibited virus seeks reason to make me shed my protein coat.

#10 This very selective oligonucleotide has been probing for just the right target for long-term hybridization.

#11 Mature cells seeks some who still enjoys cycling and won’t go apoptotic on me. Let’s fight senescence together!

#12 I’m a prolific progenitor with great potential for growth and self-renewal. Call me if you’re a potent hematopoietic factor who still believes in endless nights of colony stimulation.

#13. I don’t always express myself of the surface, but I’m looking for a signal that you appreciate my complexity. Send me the right message that will penetrate my membranes, turn on my protein expression and release my potential energy. 

These are some of the best jokes ever.



My favourite research

Foto: Mojca

I bet it involves a lot of tasting, ehm, I mean testing:-)


Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Scientists Can Be Grateful for on Thanksgiving

And before the Thanksgiving weekend is officially over - here is the most awesome article about what scientist are thankful for. LOL. 

What Scientists Can Be Grateful for on Thanksgiving

Among the old projects from elementary school, I discovered an assignment from my second grade teacher asking us to write down what we were thankful for. I had written, "Im thankful for the world because we live on it."

Now there’s the answer of a future scientist: to-the-point, matter-of-fact, and basically valid. If you’re going to give thanks for one thing, shouldn’t it be the world? If we didn’t have the world, then what? Just a bunch of floating people?
Thanksgiving is a time when we’re forced to verbalize what we’re thankful for. Not that we’re ungrateful in general, but we usually don’t sit around the dinner table taking turns expressing gratitude while our food gets cold.
At Thanksgiving, we identify the usual culprits. We’re thankful for family, we’re thankful for friends, we’re thankful for the food itself. We’re thankful that Farting Cousin Barry’s flight was delayed. But do we ever stop and express our appreciation for science?
No, says Google: A search for “Thanksgiving science” yields only articles about whether turkey really makes you sleepy.
So let’s do it now.
We are thankful for our families who don’t flinch when we say that we need to go into the lab at midnight, even though the gist of this sentiment is that we’re choosing bacterial cultures over them.
We are thankful that some branches of science have produced some pretty useful things, because their success allows the other branches to keep working on fun, pointless crap below the radar.
• We are thankful for the goggles that keep our eyeballs intact, albeit at the expense of long-lasting dark lines on our foreheads.
• We are thankful for the big words that make us sound smart.
• We are thankful that our profession inspires an entire branch of wonderfully inventive fiction. Not too many jobs do that; you never wander into Barnes & Noble to find that the Science Fiction section is flanked by Construction Fiction and Answers-Phones-at-a-Nonprofit Fiction. Granted, historians can claim Historical Fiction, but which would you rather read: Orson Scott Card or a 950-page novel set against the backdrop of the Rutherford B. Hayes Administration? 
We are thankful to the funding agencies that support our research. Without them, we’d be at home experimenting on our cats.
• We are thankful for high-quality journals that allow us to share our advances with the world, like Science -- and there’s this other one, I think, a British one that starts with an “N”. NurtureNeighbors? I don’t remember.
• We are thankful for Web browsers that allow us to cover our search history, so that when a student asks us a basic question we can find the answer on Wikipedia and pretend we knew it all along.
• We are thankful for the teachers who have mentored us and filled us with a sense of wonder about science. (We are not thankful for the teachers who just sat at their desks and doodled while we filled out worksheets about the solar system. You know who you are, Mr. X. Those worksheets taught me nothing but the word “gibbous.”)
• We are thankful for the people who hear about scientific advances and don’t automatically put the prefix “Franken-” in front of them.
• We are thankful that Ph.D. programs in the sciences, as much as we complain about them, aren’t nearly as horrifying as, say, Ph.D. programs in the humanities. I just heard today from a friend in his ninth year of a comparative literature Ph.D. who thinks he might finish “in a year and a half.” At least the job market for comp lit Ph.D. awardees is thriving, right?
• We are thankful for coffee. So, so thankful.
• We are thankful for all of the wacky people in lab coats who smash liquid nitrogen-chilled racquetballs or microwave bars of soap to show kids how awesomely radical science can be. Additionally, we are thankful that kids are gullible.
• We are thankful for the knowledge that eating beets can turn your pee red. This has nothing to do with science, but seriously, I was freaking out this morning.
• We are thankful for that one colleague who knows statistics. There’s always one.
We are thankful that we no longer have to conclude our findings with “because the Church says so” or “because of an imbalance in the four vital humours.”
We are thankful to the peers who review all of the peer-reviewed papers in the world, except when they ask us to perform additional experiments, because then they’re just being ignorant morons with stupid faces.
• We are thankful for significant figures and for those who understand how to use them properly. So, not undergrads.
• We are thankful for the general dearth of social grace at work that allows us to fit in so well.
• We are thankful for the metric system. There, I said it.
• But most of all, we are thankful that we get to spend our careers asking and answering interesting questions -- even when those answers only spawn more questions, and even when those questions are: “Why are the data so messed up?” or “Why didn’t the controls work again?” We are thankful for the opportunity to lead lives of investigation and discovery.
Can we eat now, please? Cousin Barry will be here any minute.
by Adam Ruben

Thanks to A. for sharing this.



Thermometers Rarely Make it to Post-Graduate Work


Wetlab scientist

You know you share a bathroom with a wetlab scientist when you spot the shampoo and soap in blue-capped centrifuge tubes ...

Foto: Mojca

Great travelling size package though.

Thanks, B, for sharing this experience.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Theory vs. Experiment

A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it. 

Albert Einstein

So, so true:-)



Another safety joke

“Safety Managers: persons who write a 10,000 word document and call it a brief.”
-- Franz Kafka

What do Safety Managers use for birth control?
Their personalities.

What do you call a Safety Manager gone bad?
A Politician.

What’s the difference between God and a Safety Manager?
God doesn’t think he’s a Safety Manager.