June 17, 2009

Hey, that's DOCTOR to you (Part 1)

I knowingly married a big HUGE nerd. Before anyone passes judgment, let me explain that the term "nerd" connotes a very positive meaning for our families, so I say that sentence in the highest praise. I am a firm believer that there are stark differences between being a nerd, a geek, and a dork, and if you'd like me to launch into my lengthy diatribe, just knock on my proverbial door.

This week, Ted will be graduating with Uber-Nerd status from the illustrious California Institute of Technology. He earned his PhD in Biology after seven years in the Caltech lab, growing microscopic worms to further his research in RNA pathways and how they affect the genes that drive cell differentiation. And yes, I know exactly what I just said. He knowingly married a nerd, too, though a mild one at best.


In order to graduate, Ted had to prepare his thesis (which turned out to be around 150 pages) and then defend that thesis in front of his advisor, his labmates, and a committee that has been overseeing his work along the way. It was a pretty intense process to finish up that thesis and then create a detailed PowerPoint for his defense, so I left work early that day to witness the fruits of his many labors.


He certainly didn't disappoint! I was in awe of how easily he rattled off genetic codes and acronyms describing his research, but it REALLY blew my mind when I started hearing phrases like "My contributions to the C. elegans body of knowledge..." and "I discovered that...". I don't think I've ever been more in love with him than I was at that point. I thoroughly enjoyed my role as proud wife. Oh, and he spent the last seven years studying the vulva of that little worm. Yep - the VULVA.




Ted's friend and labmate volunteered for the task of advertising the event. These are what he came up with:





Take a good look at the colorful diagram. This is something Ted designed to show the cell differentiation of the 7 cell types in the vulva. It became somewhat famous in his lab, so they did a play on that with the Skittles. Another labmate wanted to lure participants to the thesis defense with the advertisement: "Taste the vulval rainbow", which of course sounds dirty.

A replication in dessert form, compliments of one of his lab mates:





Jacarandas were in full bloom just for the occasion, and the sky was seriously that blue.




Caption for this one:
"Wow, Dr Daddy, you're SOOOO SMAAAARRRT!"



Congratulations, honey buns! You deserve a break!


9 comments:

Megan said...

Hooray! That's very cool! We were only at Caltech for 5 years which seemed like an eternity. Bonus kudos to you for the extra 2 years.

I'm slightly familiar with C. elegans having sent them up to space on a JPL project when I was in high school. Ok, so I only bar coded all the petri dishes... but still. I did actually use several of them for a science project in high school. My fav's were the dumpy dopey ones. But I digress...

Congrats to all of you! I was never brave enough to attend Spencer's defense after witnessing the bloodshed of his Masters. More bonus kudos to you Al!

Emily S. said...

That's awesome! Ted is seriously one of the smartest people I know - for sure! Congratulations!

Kristi said...

Congrats on graduating to Ted! We love our nerds!!

Andrew said...

Congrats to you, Allison, for soldiering on as a Smart Person's Wife. As a Smart Person's Husband (for those who don't know, Heather is working on a masters in Biochemistry), I know the courage and dedication it takes to be a Smart Person's Significant Other, or SPSO. We should start a club, and then try to beat them at Scrabble or Settlers or something. BTW, Josh Black sent me a note that he wants to kick your trash at some Settlers. SPSO Unite!

Jean said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TED!!!!! Rejoice in your nerd-dom!!!

PS - I'm reeeeaaaally going to miss you guys. I've decided that you should stay.

curg said...

Is there really any greater compliment than to have the "nerd alert!" bomb dropped on you? There are many wonderful parts to your post, Assie, but perhaps one of the underrated ones is the nerd gang photo under the c. elegans brownies. Go ahead & put that one right up there w/ the infamous early Microsoft nerds photo w/ Bill Gates, Paul Allen, et al. Seriously I'm kind of offended I never got to hang with that group. Anyway, long live nerds, long live c. elegans, and of course long live Dr. Tedward.

Anna said...

Ted, congratulations. I always thought you were the smartest guy.

charrette said...

Congrats, Ted.

The person who made that replica out of brownies and skittles is my new hero!

And how many times am I going to have to DIE over Tessa's sweet little face? I love that shot of her, clearly in awe of him.

Jennette said...

Biggest congratulations Ted!! (I'm finally catching up on blog posts after our vacations).

So cool to hear about the research...you've come a long way from the lichen lab!

And congratulations Allison too! From one nerd-wife to another, I know the feeling and it is awesome. Looking forward to hearing about the next chapter in your adventures.

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