A transparent lifeJuly 21, 2008
I wonder if it’s common for researchers to flip through collections of old slides in the way that normal people might flip through albums of old photographs. I found myself doing this last Friday while moving boxes from one lab to another, except that many of my “slides” were overhead transparencies from my grad school days. How carefully I had designed them! How much of my life was represented in them! It was quite a trip down memory lane.
Here’s the title transparency from my first rotation talk as a grad student. I was studying the effects of nitric oxide (NO) on muscle contraction.
I’ve never been much of an artist, but I still think this drawing is sort of brilliant. The pressure I felt as a new student…. My self-consciousness at having a skinny, unimpressive “runner’s body”…. My aversion to lifting weights…. It’s all in there.
Another whimsical overhead comes from a presentation I gave at a departmental retreat. Since we had transported Nobel Laureate Bert Sakmann all the way from Germany to give us a special guest lecture about ion channels (which allow ions to pass through membranes), I devised the following mock talk.
Eventually I started using PowerPoint like everybody else, illustrating slides with bad clip art rather than drawings. Anyone recognize runner #111 in the 1999 slide below? He was one of about ten free sports-related images that came with Microsoft software at the time. I don’t know where I found the snake picture, but my options must have been pretty limited because it’s not of a rattlesnake.
By the time I finally defended my dissertation in 2002, we had all gotten more sophisticated in our ability to find and manipulate images. Since my doctoral research concerned NMR spectroscopy, I “photoshopped” the phosphocreatine peak of a 31P spectrum into an outline of the Space Needle.
After I graduated, my next research project focused on bacteria that can subsist on methanol (a one-carbon alcohol) as their sole source of carbon and energy. At parties I’d often say that I studied bacteria that “consume nothing but alcohol,” which sometimes drew the response, “Yeah, I used to have a roommate like that….”
I have many more slides, of course, but this is probably getting really boring for you. No? Well, maybe just one more, then?