A transparent life

July 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.

NO effect

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.

Bert Sakmann, transported

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.

ACSM talk

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.

Seattle spectroscopy

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….”

methylo intro

I have many more slides, of course, but this is probably getting really boring for you. No? Well, maybe just one more, then?

jelly electrophoresis

One comment

  1. interesting to see your metamorphism from a cartoonist to a sophisticated PPT'ier

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