August 13, 2011

Welcome to "Gaines, on Brains"

Welcome to my new blog!

My name is Jordan, and I'm a 22-year old graduate student beginning the pursuit of my Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Penn State. I'm not entirely certain what I'd like to do with my degree yet. I just know that I want a Ph.D., something I've wanted since 8th grade before I even knew what "neuroscience" really was. That could be me wanting to seriously pursue the scientific endeavor with all of my heart and soul, or me wanting to prefix my name with "Dr." without the daunting responsibility of treating patients.

I've always enjoyed reading and writing. I'm a slow but voracious reader, and I've had poems, short stories, and essays published. It's always been a great hobby of mine even though I've never pursued it seriously.

I love the idea of research. I love the methodical and creative approach, and I love delving into the scientific literature—that feeling of knowing a topic on the back of your hand and realizing that you've read every paper the author you're reading has cited. There is no greater feeling than putting your own creative spin on a problem in lab and seeing a result.

Unfortunately, not only is that feeling fleeting—it is also rare to come across in the first place.

As I begin my graduate studies, I am also beginning my soul-searching. Do I want to experience science first-hand, writing and pipetting and planning and scrapping ideas and feeling the PMS-like emotions of utter excitement and hopeless frustration multiple times throughout the day, likely alone at a lab bench? Or would I find more pleasure in the world of science writing—journalism, medical writing, diving into literature, interviewing researchers, and sharing information with my peers like those authors and science magazines I so enjoy?

I don't know. Should I know? Am I in the wrong place if I'd rather do the latter? I don't think so. But will I be miserable here if I do decide to pursue the latter? Let's hope not...

I love reading about science, and I hope to encourage discussion and questions on this blog as I share, in laymen's terms (I hope), news on the latest discoveries in biology, neuroscience, and other interesting fields.

Given my limited time as a first-semester graduate student, these will likely be limited to reviewing papers I read for class, putting my own spin on articles I read (Scientific American is one of my favorite online magazines), and short anecdotes and opinions on up-and-coming ideas.

Please feel free to subscribe (see the bar to your right) and comment!

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