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Microbiology

This is my last semester at Fontbonne. Wow. Though it feels like I’ve been waiting for years to be able to say that, actually saying it feels strange.

I finished all of my courses required for my various biology programs in December, so now I’m just finishing up my theatre minor and taking a couple of independent study courses with two of my favorite Fontbonne professors. In addition, I’ll continue working for the Kinkel Center as a peer tutor for biology courses, and I’ll continue interning in my microbiology lab.

I’d be the first to say that this blog’s title may seem contradictory, since I’m hoping to go “back to school.” I’ve had aspirations to continue with my education at the graduate level ever since my freshman year at Fontbonne when one of my professors told me I’d need a graduate degree in order to pursue science and, in particular, biomedical research in the way that I want to. As of right now, however, I have no idea where I’m going or which type of degree I’ll be pursuing. For someone who’s as much of a planner as me, not knowing such important life details can begin to feel unbearable at times.

All of that aside, however, I’m hoping to have a relatively peaceful last semester at Fontbonne before I enter graduate school and the “real world.” Welcome back, Griffins, and a good semester to all.

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I’m not athletic. I don’t relish in the idea of a trophy room. I’d rather see everyone who sincerely tries succeed instead of seeing the same few people being successful all of the time. However, all of that being said, I’m definitely excited to have taken home first place from my microbiology lab’s first Thanksgiving pie-off.

What started as a joke turned in to one of the biggest events of this fall at my lab. Test pies were made before the actual event. One of the would-be judges was disqualified because he knew who was making each type of pie. Even some “trash talk” was issued over lunch. (“You bake pies like your momma. Unless your momma bakes good pies, in which case you bake nothing like your momma.”) Yep, it got intense.

We started out the competition day with what one of my lab managers called the “pie parade,” which was basically just us bringing our pies into the building and putting them into our refrigerator. (Don’t worry – no bacteria or samples go in that refrigerator!) Then, at lunch, one of our scientists judged the pies. I was so enthralled to have won.

Want to make my award-winning pie? Here’s the recipe. If you want it to be more like my pie, use these modifications: I didn’t make my own whipped cream. I just used Cool Whip. I used one entire normal-sized (sorry, I’m not sure of the actual volume) container’s contents to fold into the chocolate mixture, and I used half of another container’s contents on the top of the finished pie.

Happy Baking!! :)

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Courtney

My Favorite Things

by Courtney on November 24, 2013

in College Life

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a big “Sound of Music” fan. It’s a classic – don’t get me wrong – but it’s just a little too “overdone” for me. However, with Thanksgiving upon us, I’d like to talk about a few of my favorite little things in life that simply make life all that much sweeter.

Music
A lot of people I’ve met are shocked when they find out that I’m in love with music. I’m an extremely analytical person who’s going to be a scientist, so I guess they think that music doesn’t really relate to me due to its deep roots in the humanities. This, however, is a completely-incorrect thought. I could go for days without checking my phone for texts, but I couldn’t go without my iPod for more than a couple of hours. Music is this higher power that nothing else in life can relate to. Along with water, food, and oxygen, music is a vital for my life.

Microbes
I’m a self-described germaphobe, but I want to devote my life to infectious disease research. (Paradox much?!) I relish studying a world that we literally can’t even see with the naked eye. From a microbiology standpoint, these tiny entities are amazing. In one sense, they’re simple, but, in other senses, they couldn’t be more complex.

Photographs
I miss my friends. School just isn’t the same without them. I miss spending half of my Wednesdays watching movies while doing homework with my best friend in the biology seminar room. I miss getting into these long, drawn out discussions/arguments about biological concepts. I have friends on campus – don’t get me wrong – but I still feel as though my “family” has already graduated. I also have friends who are – literally – in other parts of the world that I barely get to talk to anymore. Photos bring me closer to all of these friends, especially since I don’t have Facebook. I have their pictures in my binder, locker, and bedroom. I read an article about how photos of good times make life better, and, though it’s hard to explain why, I believe that this statement is completely true.

Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels
Yes, this is an extremely strange thing to be thankful for. But these nifty paper towels are perforated so that you can use as much as you need. In a microbiology lab, you go through a TON of paper towels because you need to keep everything as clean as possible in order to prevent cross-contamination. Select-a-Size allows me to use the amount of paper towels I need while also feeling like I’m being responsible and eco-friendly.

I know that this list is extremely unconventional, but it truly is the little things in life that makes life whole.

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Courtney

I’m a Poet

by Courtney on November 10, 2013

in After College,College Life

Last week, while I was looking online for some microbiology information, I saw a blog-style article. Being interested, I clicked on the link to open the article and began reading. I’m a very opinionated person myself, and I respect others’ viewpoints so long as they have backing for those viewpoints, but I definitely didn’t like the tone in which parts of the article were written. For instance, at one point, the article talked about microbiology as a career in which you come home smelling like chemicals and whatnot every single day. It also said that you need at least an MS (if not a full-blown Ph.D.) in order to work in the field (which is very factual indeed).

At first, I was kind of upset by the article’s seemingly anti-micro tone. But then, I realized that I don’t mind what it said. I don’t mind coming home with the smell of nitrile gloves still present on my hands. I don’t mind having the lingering smell of autoclaved agar on my clothes. And, really, I don’t mind the thought of more school – sure, I’d love to be working full time out in the “real world” and coming home to errands instead of homework and studying, but, as I recently told my mom, I just don’t feel like I’m ready to be out of school yet.

Early this summer, as I was sitting with a friend and fellow intern at the microscope while performing a Gram stain procedure, he randomly said, “You know, we’re poets.” I looked at him like he was crazy. He said, “No, really, we are. We look at things that no one else sees. We try to understand those things. We’re poets.”

After considering his argument for a while, I realized that my friend was exactly right. Microbiologists study organisms that we literally can’t see without the aid of a microscope. We try to understand living things that many people place in the “out of sight, out of mind” category. We try to map out their genes and figure out how they’re going to mutate in order to protect our and other species inhabiting this planet. I knew ever since my first basic staining procedure in Dr. Thomasson’s microbiology course that I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else with my life; however, I never imagined that I’d become a poet at the same time.

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Perceptions

by Courtney October 12, 2013

It doesn’t seem like there’s that much difference between the phrases “I’m going to be” and “I am.” But, coming from my viewpoint, those phrases couldn’t be more different. Two years ago in one of my theatre classes (because, remember, I’m a theatre minor amidst all of my biology programs), our professor led a discussion [...]

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Worth Every Penny

by Courtney September 24, 2013

I’m not going to lie – whenever I purchase greeting cards, I usually look for the value cards. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?! However, this past summer, I went into my local Hallmark store in search for the perfect card. Much to my dismay, my favorite Fontbonne professor, Dr. Thomasson, retired. He [...]

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Back in Session

by Courtney September 15, 2013

Hello, Dear Readers! It’s been a while since I posted my last summer blog. And my, how things have changed since then! The weather is saying that fall is soon upon us, classes have been in session for almost a month, and my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, draws ever closer. This semester is [...]

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It’s All Coming Together Now…

by Courtney June 20, 2013

I just returned home after a day devoted to all things science. Today, the lab where I’m an intern hosted an open house/networking event at the Helix Center, a biotech incubator in Creve Coeur. “What exactly is a biotech incubator?” you may ask. Well, basically, it’s a place where small, start-up lab companies can begin [...]

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For Good

by Courtney May 28, 2013

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them…” The above lyrics are from the final song in my all-time favorite musical, “Wicked.”  I’ve been thinking about these lyrics in [...]

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Life.

by Courtney April 7, 2013

Today’s weather was gorgeous. As in, practically eighty degrees, a nice amount of sunshine, and very low humidity. And what did I do today? Homework, as usual. And as I was looking at my planner, I realized that I misunderstood my friend and fellow blogger Carly when she said that we have five weeks of [...]

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