Tiffany Day – two weeks late

19 01 2009

Tiffany Day was January 6.

I’m sure she’ll be relieved to know (Although, St Tiffany was a guy, and his feast day was November 24)

Tiffany totally forgot to mention any of this when she was interviewed last Thursday’s Eve. Disappointed…

In her interview Tiffany confesses her thirst for blood, blames her father and wonders why anyone is interested in her at all.

To predict your next question – Tiffany is an astronomy student, Macquarie skeptic and contributor to the popular The Skeptic Zone podcast (and also a judo Olympian from Queensland. aha! Google has betrayed your secrets to me). She’s even available on a T-shirt. And hopefully she doesn’t find this blog post in any way disturbing.

Fun fact: Tiffany can either mean “manifestation of God”  from Greek, or “thin veil” or “gauze” in Old Middle English. Thanks, internets.





In which the writer writes some more

8 09 2008

My success rate on job applications has just gone up 100%.

Instead of scoring one job out of the 225239 applications (recorded, so many I actually lost count) I put in since graduating in February, I have now managed to receive a second offer.

I will admit that I did cast an overly large net in my job search. The fuzzy break down of statistics to date are:

  • 239 job applications – random picks – Molecular Biologist Research Associate, Regulatory Toxicologist, Fraud Officer, Communications and Research Officer, and Biospecimen Processor, as well as several Federal and State Government Graduate Development Programs (most of whom, I’m happy to admit, did progress to interview stage)
  • 99 potential employers who never responded
  • 102  who decided I would not be suitable when compared to the other candidates (several of whom still thought it worth saying I had impressive skills/experience or combination thereof)
  • 2 who, while agreeing with the above, thought it worth suggesting other positions within their organization that I might have better luck with
  • 1 maternity-leave replacement position that was withdrawn
  • 5 who were impressed enough by my resume to submit me to further testing
  • 12 more who actually interviewed me
  • 3 international respondents, who were suitably impressed by my skills to investigate my employability, but not willing to go through red tape to actually sponsor my visa
  • 1 who phoned me, left a message and I phoned back and left a message, and then they phoned me back and left a message, and … well you get the picture
  • 5 potential employers got back to me with positive responses, regarding either an interview or potential interview, whom I turned down because I had finally succeeded in getting employment (JCU was even willing to pay for my trip to Townsville)
  • 3 trips to Brisbane and back to attend interviews and testing, and a further 1 just down (but back now, only temporarily)
  • 2 positive totally legit jobs

For the past two months I have been working hard in Customer Service for Quantum Scientific, a life science research product distributor based in Brisbane servicing all of Australia. While sometimes it is hard to explain exactly how I use my science degree effectively when I sit behind a desk using phones and the internet all day, but I did, honest. I originally applied for a Technical Support position with the company, but did not have sufficient experience with protein studies (Western blots etc.), as I repeated a few times, I’m a more of DNA kind of guy.

I really enjoyed my brief time with Quantum, but now I’m moving onto something new. Medical writing. In case, the blogging wasn’t a give away, writing is something I really enjoy. Come next week I’ll be working for an international medical communications firm, Meditech Media, out of their Sydney office.

I’m a bit torn on how to reconcile my ethics of quitting my other job so soon. I felt very appreciated, and that things were overall moving positively there. But despite reading here that Medical Writing is booming in Australia, entry level positions certainly aren’t being advertised for people from the science side of graduation. Many advertisements specify experience as a must, or at least some sort of training in writing/publishing. For this reason I thought it best to leap on what I feel would make my dream job. Let’s hope this is the start of stable and fruitful future.





Human parasite’s goody two shoes cousin helps coral

28 08 2008

Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases under study today. It has been with us since early medical history, and still persists as a major global threat.

The disease is caused by a parasite – a multicellular microorganism. Not just a simple bacteria, the malaria plasmodium is a complex critter that still remains quite mysterious. It is very hard to work with in the laboratory: it doesn’t culture well and the risks involved are immense.

The discovery of a non-infectious relative (albeit, rather distant) by Australian researchers is exciting news for many.

Paydirt hasn’t quite been hit as far as medical research. However the fun isn’t just for medicos, but the evolutionary biologists as well.

Chromera velia is clearly related to Plasmodium parasites, but rather than being a blood-borne obligate parasite of mammals and insects that rarely sees light of day, it is a plankton-like photosynthesising obligate symbiont of corals.

These long-lost cousins are so very different, it could almost make the ghost script of the next Wil Farrell comedy (or not, besides its been done before).

Can they really be from the same origin?

The evidence is convincing.

For more information, take a read of a great interview (it says so in the title) with the scientists responsible for the discovery, as well as the University of Sydney press release.

Image: Copyright University of Sydney. Use only for non-commercial and educational purposes with attribution.