I’m keeping tonight’s post relatively succinct in nature. I’m struggling to stay awake at the moment, and I got some people1 to impress tomorrow with my poster!

    Highlights of the day:

  • There’s a running joke now about how project/research X has been ongoing/started/joined/left since Y’s administration (even including a jab at the “Lewinski administration”)
  • Considering the quirks I’ve heard about Marians’ ability to socialize, he gives a very good talk; I’m less apt to believe said remarks about his socializing skills
  • Was surprised and pleased by the incorporation of G-loop/G4 structures into this meeting, albeit for perhaps only a singular talk; this was awfully popular in the repair and mutagenesis fields, so I wasn’t quite expecting it here
  • Someone thought the food here at the meeting was relatively terrible; I’ve just been ecstatic to have salad with every meal except breakfast (the couscous and quinoa salads were delightful surprises as well)
  • Next meeting (2013) may be in Italy…Italy!!!
  • Voted to recommend applying for the Gordon Research Seminars for the next Chromosome Dynamics meeting; I hope to be attending it, if my soon-to-be post-doc research interests align then!
  • Freakin’ amazing animation of mitotic chromosome pairing…I’d swear it came out of a professional 3D-animation studio from the looks of it
  • Intrigued by some results being seen, where it appears recA isn’t acting like expect…at least not responding like one would expect it to in response to UV DNA damage
  • Related to that, wondering what the hell is up with obgE…originally identified as a ribosome-binding protein, it seems to affect replication, chromosome partitioning, and god knows what else!

1Sue Lovett, David Sherratt, James Berger, Ken Marians, Alan Leonard, Julia Grimwade (although I think I have her taken care of after talking with her at her poster today) for starters!

Third day of this conference got a bit rougher. I did not wake up nearly as refreshed1, and I tried to cut back on my coffee consumption. It’s certainly not necessary, but it does help. That made the morning session a bit more difficult to stay awake through, but I did just fine! An earlier bedtime tonight will fix that issue.

I attempted to hike up Mount Snow during the free afternoon block. I only got about halfway up the mountain before I lost the quadricep/knee strength to keep climbing2, but it certainly was better than I had hoped after the poor attempt to climb Whistler Mountain two years ago. A quick immersion in the pool prior to the poster session, and I realized just how sore that climb left me. Yikes!

I’m getting more and more excited for my time at my poster on Thursday afternoon now. I talked with Sue Lovett again about my work and ß-clamp related stuff after lunch, and had a couple more people asking me when my poster would be up to look at and discuss. Apparently repair and mutagenesis conferences are not the place to be presenting my work!

Unrelated news: Netflix just drove their rates up. Streaming plans are no longer included in their DVD plans, so I’m promptly dropping the streaming plan, if not dropping them altogether. There are still a few older movies I want to see again, and some older TV series I’d like to rewatch, but I have no substantial use for their streaming. Their selection for streaming is too variable most of the time, as well!

Exhaustion and muscle fatigue are winning me over. I’m determined to keep up the blogging nightly during the conference, mostly for the principle of it, and less for the context. I’m still irked and torn over the ‘please don’t share/email/record/tweet/etc data’ principle of the meeting3, so I try to refrain from going into details. BUT, much to my surprise, I found another tweeter (or more accurately she found me) at the media! How hip are we?? I can’t wait until the walls come down a little further on this sharing of research data. That’s altruistically what research is all about, is it not? (o.O)

1Monday morning I woke up with the sun; the alarm did all the work this morning!
2My knees are surprisingly weaker than they used to be back during my high school years. I used to do quad extensions at an easy 150lbs for both knees. I think I’d be lucky to do 100lbs with ease on both knees now. Really considering getting them checked out for the weird squishy noises I hear from them as I climb stairs daily!
3Mostly because of the sharing nature of the conference, yet we can’t tweet/blog about it, despite the fact we’ll be discussing it with our colleagues later regardless? Seems a bit…moot, perhaps? *shrugs*

The second day of the conference has me finally suffering (or moreso meandering) through the entire mirth of what a typical day is going to entail here. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was thinking it would be, so I definitely need to cut back on the coffee consumption. I thought I would need more; I was sorely mistaken. It’s fairly good coffee, but I just don’t need it!

James Berger led off the morning session with a lovely talk that did not disappoint, much like his publications. I thought he had fancy figures in his papers. It certainly extended towards his presentation of the material in a talk! I have been a bit enamored with his work for a few years now, simply because he’s done a lot to contribute towards understanding of how DnaA setups up the oriC complex to promote initiation of replication in E. coli, with a very structure/function styled approach. Interestingly, he may be the only structural talk I see this meeting, from the looks of it.

I’m shocked at how much real-time microscopy and single-molecule studies are being done in this field, egad! I mean it makes sense…visualization of chromosome partitioning/segregation/migration makes it substantially easier to examine was is defective with mutations in related genes. Some of the results being done with those kind of experiments is just amazing (and kind of beautiful too, when you look at how mitotic spindles pull the chromosomes to the daughter cells during mitosis).

I’m nearly flabbergasted by the similarity of interest of other labs to my own work. When I attended the ASM Conference on DNA Repair & Mutagenesis, I really had very little interest at my poster. In fact, I think I only had one individual come to talk to me about it when I was manning it. So far at this meeting? At least five individuals1 have expressed their desire to come talk to me about my work when I’m presenting my poster on Thursday. On Thursday! They’re excited to hear about it now! What the fuck! Obviously, my work is totally in the right conference this time!

Also, meeting a lot of interesting people with intriguing work! I met a graduate student from Sue Lovett‘s lab2 who (with the exception of the post-doc who also came up with her) is one of the only ones in her lab doing ‘chromosomal dynamics’ related work in the lab (similar to myself in my lab). I also met a post-doc from Elliott Crooke‘s lab, and he and I talked through all of lunch about our work and more. Randomly, I chatted up a post-doc from Antoine van Oijen‘s lab who found that UV-induced damage in E. coli at 23˚C apparently does not induce UmuC/D foci. Blows my mind!!! UmuC/D are the proteins known in E. coli to repair UV-induced DNA damage. Egad!

Also, interestingly, I met a young PI, Wiep Klaas Smits, who is transitioning his post-doctoral work in Alan Grossman‘s lab on Bacillus subtilis to a new model system, Clostridium difficile. It was interesting to learn how proximal oriC in B. subtilis and C. difficile to their dnaA loci (basically adjacent to), whereas in E. coli the oriC has been mapped to ~45kilobases away from the dnaA locus.

Uffda. Okay, I’ve really rambled enough. I need to get my ass to bed so I can indulge in more great talks, and attempt to hike up Mount Snow! Well, at least as far as I can get…

1First one of which was actually the conference chairwoman, Sue Lovett! Wow!
2Sue’s work is highly touted by my own mentor for much of her lab’s work in DNA repair.

So, I’m in West Dover, VT, for the week for the Gordon Research Conference on Chromosome Dynamics. It was about a seven hour drive out from Buffalo, with a very scenic (albeit secluded) drive through Green Mountain National Forest on Kelley Stand and Stratton Arlington Roads. Definitely gave the Jetta a nice workout, between the hefty inclines/declines1, and the dirt/gravel-only stretch that is Kelley Stand Road. I have to admit, I love and miss the smell of big forests!

The first keynote was pretty awesome. David Sherratt provided some interesting data about chromosomal segregation in E. coli, and even a shout-out to Hda (my favorite protein)! Susan Gasser‘s keynote about chromatin migration in budding yeast after was also really interesting, but left a lot of speculative questions unanswered. They actually had to cut the post-talk discussion to an early end because they were out of allotted time. It also reminded me how eukaryotic systems are going to kick my butt in the talks. However, I’m pretty enamored that they chose a prokaryotic talk for the first keynote of the conference!

Also, I have a bunch of 4th of July pictures laying around from last weekend. Go take a look, if you haven’t seen them already. I got some fairly nice fireworks pictures, and a couple of great shots of a Roman candle war.

Lastly, Google+ is going to be my technological crack for a few weeks. I got an invite over the weekend, and am slowly learning the ins and outs of it. Bad time for that, amidst a scientific international conference!

1Some of those inclines/declines were pushing 20-25% grade. Uffda!