Winter break is over, which, unlike the weather back home, wasn’t quite wintery, and I’m back to Keck of USC, and I officially joined a lab for my master’s training at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, which is a top-notch state-of-the-art research institute at USC, I manged to get that position, which wasn’t easy, and I got the chance to work with three PI’s (Principal Investigators) who are collaborating o a big research project. My assigned mentor is the awesome MD, PhD Biophysicist Robert Chow, the lab director is MD, PhD Neurogeneticist James Knowles, and my direct supervisor is a Russian PhD, ScD geneticist whose name is Oleg Evgrafove or something! and I will be working on some complicated stuff you don’t need to bother knowing its details…Just kidding, I just don’t exactly know what I’m working on, it’s just some complicated Neuroscience crap!
I’m taking two classes in addition to this: Physiology (less than ten students in a conference room with a professor and a very intense MD-level systems physiology) and Protein Chemistry, which is also pretty detailed.
My working station!
For those who are familiar with biotechnology, this lab has three Illumina HiSeq NGS platforms, which cost over $750,000 each, in addition to other sequencers and robotic machines which you can hardly find any. if at all, in the entire kingdom of Jordan.
This is a funny professor in protein chem class, he’s so cool and simple and nerdy, so I thought of taking a picture for him!
I wanted to post that before but I was super busy lately and I can barely follow up with my classes, But today I had a day that I think I should talk about, so I’m posting this.
As I mentioned, I currently work in this neurogenetics/ Molecular Neurosciences lab, and I just started actually doing hands-on lab work. And here comes the interesting part, my colleague, who was teaching me this new technique, opened up the topic of creationism vs. evolution out of the blue, and probably intentionally to see what my views about it are. We talked and talked and, as expected, the conversation moved to talking about religion, but it was friendly and nice. We finished the experiment successfully and went up back to the lab and I found myself involved in another conversation with other colleagues and I really didn’t want to spend more time because I had to leave early to spend some hours studying before I get to sleep, which I eventually didn’t.
They were talking about a pull-up challenge and somehow got me into it. Then we started discussing the terms of this contest and whether there’s a gambling in it or not, then the conversation turned to diet, then to fasting, then to Ramadan then to ISIS, then to Islam, then to religion and God’s existence in general, and it took us an entire hour talking about that.
I don’t deny that it was kind of fruitful to me, and maybe to them, but I just didn’t expect it and although I was careful and honest at the same time, I thought it would have been better.
When you encounter such situations you learn a lot about the world views of people from different backgrounds: White Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Mixed ethnicity, and yes it matters, Russians, Chinese, Koreans, and so on. This teaches you that it’s not as simple as you may have thought, and one day you and what you stand for will be challenged by different people in different situations and you’d better be ready when this comes.