Three Years of ‘Science GIFs’ on Google+

Three years ago, Google announced the Collections feature on the Google+ social network. It offered a way to group posts by topic so that others could follow their specific interests rather than your entire profile. I created two collections, Data is Beautiful and Science GIFs, the latter of which I’ve maintained for almost three years now. Every week I post a science-related GIF and an accompanying explanation of the finding, physical phenomenon, or chemical reaction. I try to feature recent research publications and announcements whenever possible to avoid reposting content seen elsewhere online.

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The Qualifying Exam: Part II

As of yesterday afternoon I have completed and passed my qualifying exam for the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the qualifying exam consists of two parts: a written response and an oral exam with a faculty committee. The written part was extremely straightforward and really just required the reading of background papers to adequately answer the questions. More than anything it just served as a starting point for preparing for the oral examination, which is much more open-ended and difficult to predict. All we were told were the time and place of the exam and the number of faculty members that would comprise the committee. There were four in total with two from my research area (Imaging and Instrumentation) and one from each of the other two research areas. Going into the meeting, that was literally the extent of my knowledge concerning the exam, which leaves the mind quite free to imagine horrible, horrible outcomes.

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Fun with Optics

I spent my entire Saturday helping out at Explore UT as part of a Biomedical Optics Graduate Organization (BOGO) outreach event. We held three forty-minute-long sessions with about thirty kids (8-11 years old) and taught them about optics and the properties of light. Thanks to some incredible funding from our backing organizations (OSA and SPIE), we were able to provide the kids with numerous hands-on, take-home demos including polarizers, diffraction gratings, UV color-changing beads, and a telescope. (more…)