Feature day in the life of, Breann PhD candidate in nutritional biochemistry and molecular biology

Hey there! My name is Breann and I’m a 5th year PhD candidate in Nutritional Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (minor). This semester, I’m both working on my research and teaching a food science course as a first-time instructor! This means that my days are all over the map – a combination of wet lab work and bioinformatics alongside teaching labs, prepping lectures and activities, and answering dozens of student emails. My research focuses on teasing apart mechanisms of communication between the gut microbiome and other host organs, specifically the liver and adipose tissue. The goal is to understand how a certain prebiotic is efficient at altering the gut microbiome and preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I’m also doing that SciComm thing over on Instagram as @biochemist.b! Anyway, here’s a random Monday:

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7-ish am, *sunrise* : waking up to a lovely sunrise over the historic district of St. Paul, MN. This might be pretty but honestly, I would have rather not been awake.

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Almost 8:30 am, coffee time! : my blood is caffeine. I finally decided to stop into this neighborhood café/bar combination during morning hours on my way to the lab. I think that I finally understand how this establishment works. In case you were wondering, my go-to is a latte with honey!

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9 am, where I live : traffic + the walk to the lab landed me at a 9 am arrival. I popped by my lab desk quick to drop off my stuff & grab a notebook to take to the other campus for a meeting (our campus is spread out over the Twin Cities; I didn’t go far!).

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9:30 am, life advising : made it to Minneapolis! Just in time for my 9:30 meeting with one of my committee members. I was there to pick his brain about postdocs and career things, and he gave me tons of excellent advice about finding the right postdoc in data science!

After my meeting, I headed back to St. Paul and found myself socializing over bagels and brain fuel (coffee!) with my colleagues, undergraduates, and our new department head.

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11:11 am, make a wish! : I wished for my students to do well on this week’s in class assignment – a recipe activity on marshmallows! Sometimes science is tasty. Of course, these copies were hot off the press.

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Almost 1 pm, coding : after chatting with some colleagues about the important things in life (read: my probable last Halloween party before I move far away), I decided to delve into my newly released dataset from my recent microbiome extractions. Time to (try to) code my life away!

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1:30 pm, FACS analysis : ran into a bug in my code, so I headed to (one of) the campus flow cytometry center(s) to analyze some of my FACS data. I recently developed a FACS method for sizing adipocytes (fat cells) and lipid droplets (within the cells). The cells that I’m analyzing were extracted (by me!) from adipose tissue from the rats in my study.

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2:30 pm, more lecture prep : back in the lab, doing professoring things. I just wanted to take a moment to finalize my lecture slides for Tuesday and create a cheeky poll to see what students want to review before I give them an exam next week!

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2:45 pm, grading : ah, lab report grading. I’m very glad that I have teaching assistants to do the bulk of the lab grading – I just grade a handful each week to make sure that nothing too wonky is going on.

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Still 2:45 pm, procrastinating : I don’t want to grade, I don’t want to listen to the training conversation between two people in the lab, and I definitely wish that I couldn’t hear the slamming of the counter at the microscope. But it’s okay because TUNES!

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5:35 pm, home! : HOME AT LAST. PETTING PLANTS. This is my newest edition, such a cool, spooky guy.

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6:00 pm, with Pamela Morgan Beesley : had some dinner, now time to take a break with The Office. Naturally.

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8:18 pm, beer me : planned to workout, took an accidental nap instead. Now it’s time for a glass of an amazing beer from an amazing brewery while I look into potential PIs for a postdoc and write this up! Don’t forget to come hang over on my Instagram @biochemist.b, I’d love to connect! Catch ya on the flippity flip!

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