Apparently Thursday was #DayofScience. To celebrate I thought I’d share a couple typical if my typical ‘days of science’.

Experiment day:

July 13th was actually a specimen scan day so the schedule is *quite* fresh in my mind as I write this.

3:45 a.m.

Wake up (*yawwwwwn*), drive to work with radio blasting & careful eyes out for early morning deer trying to cross the highway.

4:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.

Arrive at medical center/research center. Clock in, change into scrubs, head into cadaver lab and prep specimens for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning (i.e. put in labeled biohazard bags and try not to let them leak all over)

Meet technologist at scanner, get protocols set up, eat bagels while magical physics makes images

7:30 a.m.

Pull up images, freak out because artifact screwed up the one image we didn’t check on scanner before ending the session


Wrapping 😦      (The bright blob near the bottom is actually the top part of the shoulder, it shouldn’t run into the dark shapes of the scapula and humerus. MRI can use the phase of the molecule’s spin as a localizer by varying the magnetic field, and thus the resulting spin frequency, over the length or width of an image. Different frequencies makes the spins in different locations hit different phases of the spin at the same time. Here the MRI scanner got confused about the pixel location because the location-specific-phase for the upper and lower pixels in the image were the same due to inadequate phase range, so the computer thought the pixels should be in same location & overlaid them. Not helpful.)

7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Talk to radiologist, technologist, research assistant, surgeon; get make-up scan slot squeezed in

Re-prep specimen, lug downstairs after wrapping *very* carefully so as to not freak out patients, get scanned, lug back upstairs

Get images off PACS (picture archiving and communication system), check images, sigh with relief because they look ok, let research assistant and surgeons know we’re ok to move forward.


Better MR image (left) next to CT image of same shoulder (right). No weird wrapping this time!

9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Wait for surgeon who’s doing the research surgery to get through a morning case. Eat lunch while working on an end-of-year department summary.

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Discuss surgery with surgeon, find out he needs measurements from CT, run down to CT to talk to radiology tech, get 3D volumes, run back upstairs, find out 3D view angles aren’t quite right.

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Coordinate to get radiologist and surgeon to talk to each other, finally succeed and call surgery off in order to allow time to get measurements, firm up research plan.

Reduce frustration about delay by getting a hot cocoa.

Put shoulder specimens back in fridge, change out of scrubs. Mourn loss of clothing with real pockets.

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Come up with way to do the measurements in Mimics with more adjustable volume rendering, send examples to surgeon for approval.

3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Meet with director of another department, discuss collaborative research projects.

3:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Work more on research presentation, emails, a few other small tasks.

Talk to PI about an industry project proposal.

Realize I forgot to eat my afternoon snack when my stomach cramps so hard I feel slightly ill.

5:30 p.m.

Head home!!! Shirk actual dinner making duties in favor of heating up pasta and sauce-from-a-jar with husband, who also worked a long day.


4:30 a.m. versus 4:30 p.m. after wayyyy too many trips up and down the stairs

Normal, much more relaxed day:

7:00 a.m.

Arrive at work, clock in, check email

Grab large coffee (yay!) from hospital cafeteria

Chat with PI briefly in break room

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

Work on PowerPoint presentation for PI

9:00 a.m.

Fill out some IRB paperwork

Bug PI for IRB paperwork signatures

Scan/mail IRB paperwork

Re-print and scan/mail at least one piece of IRB paperwork because I invariably miss something…

10:30 a.m.

Snack time! First snack of the day while starting some Matlab analysis

Debug code, run code, look at the lovely resulting data plots

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch, either with coworkers or at desk with a book

1:00 p.m. -4:00 p.m.

Work on some image segmentation on Mimics, manually tracing regions of interest in MR or CT scan images on touchscreen

Grab a second (smaller) coffee and afternoon snack

More Mimics!

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Meet with researchers from another department to go over a collaborative project

4:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

Send out more emails, wrap up work

Make to-do list for next day

5:00 p.m. Leave and go running 🙂



Almost another year older…and some awesome Science Club plans for celebrating ;)

I turn 27 tomorrow! I actually totally forgot this fact until my friend texted me to ask if I was “gearing up for the Big Day” and I briefly panicked that I had forgotten something terribly important. Not that a birthday isn’t important, but I’m not too panicked about forgetting mine since all I need to do is show up and age a little 😉

Part of the reason I had totally forgotten that my birthday was only a day away is that I spent most of today finalizing plans and materials for what will hopefully be a fun high school science club experiment day tomorrow. Our research institute has an outreach program, and mentors 10 high school juniors/seniors in a year-long orthopedics-focues science club as part of this effort. We focused on fracture fixation and mechanical testing for our first lab, and will be focusing on imaging and diagnostic measurements for tomorrow’s lab. Since the experiment is within my area of expertise*, I was eager to take the lead and have been enjoying refining our initial lab brainstorming idea into a high-school level experiment.

The lab is based on making diagnostic measurements for diagnosing femoro-acetabular impingement, which is a condition that causes the neck of the femur to pinch against the hip socket (acetabulum), potentially damaging the cartilage, hip labrum (fibrocartilage rim that deepens the hip socket and helps maintain fluid pressure within the hip joint), and even the bone itself. We are providing the opportunity for the students to learn about the condition itself (anatomy/morphology), some relevant imaging modalities (radiograph and MRI in this case), diagnostic challenges (challenging measurements), and a couple useful statistical parameters (intra- and inter-rater reliability). I’ve been dealing with the experimental side, and our statistician came up with an awesome way to keep the stats stuff fun by performing the more complex calculations himself in SPSS to decrease the tedium/need for extensive background material, and instead focusing on teaching the students about the meaning behind the numbers and allowing them to compete for the best intra-rater reliability/inter-rater reliability with the expert radiologist measurement.

I suppose a normal person might be bummed to be spending their birthday evening hanging out with a bunch of nerdy* high school students while teaching them about the frustration of unreliable measurements, but I’m actually super excited to spend my big day helping an awesome group of students learn about one challenging, but interesting, aspect of musculoskeletal imaging/diagnosis.

*Can’t really call myself an expert at this point, but I’m more of an expert than the non-imaging people, so we’ll go with it…

**Ok, these students barely qualify as nerdy. But they kind of have to be at least a little nerdy to qualify for our science club 😉

Oof, Monday…

I was wondering why I was absolutely beat going into this week. I think I figured out why:

Made a bit of a training load jump! Plus circuits 2x and alllll the IT band PT.

Today I ‘only’ worked out for 60 minutes, 30 of which were my bike commute, so I had time to do some anatomy review after work. I’ve been trying to brush up since it’s been 4+ years since I took anatomy and I’m actually using musculoskeletal anatomy at work. The human body is overwhelmingly complex!


I journeyed to the dreaded grocery store (so overwhelming) and only now (10pm) got around to dinner. I’m sore and bleary-eyed and can’t wait to climb into bed!

 I have some cool preliminary results to show at our research meeting tomorrow and what feels like a hundred questions to get sorted out for my first major human-subjects MRI study that involves volunteers, a long scan protocol that isn’t entirely set yet, multiple surgical fellows, and pregnancy tests for female participants by request of our IRB (ahhhhh!). We’re supposed to start data collection in 2 weeks. I’m a little anxious 😬

Oh, and I also have a software training session with a very enthusiastic international research surgeon and RA (yayyyyy, teach all the Mimics) and a tempo ride (ugh) planned for tomorrow so some rest would be useful…