This is my fourth year as a blogger. And I still love it. While some of my friends’ blogging enthusiasms have declined (yes, Montegraphia..this means YOU!!!), I have continued to increase the frequency of posting with each new year. The year began with some exciting, personal news. Montegraphia and I got engaged on New Year’s Eve/Day in Niagara Falls, Canada and are tying the knot on October 26, 2013. I also evolved into a semi-professional crossfitter, having qualified for the Reebok Fittest on Earth competition where I made a few appearances on ESPN film and received many nutritional and equipment promos.
January: In 9 blogs, I covered a very unusual controversy; an article that was published in Journal of Neuroscience, but was subsequently criticized in Sleep, which is the flagship journal of the Sleep Research Society. This research examined the temporal relationship between ATP accumulation and deep, restorative sleep. It was unclear if the reported accumulation of ATP during NREM sleep and disruption of this response during sleep loss was due to changes in ATP synthesis, degradation, or use and also why the reported levels were higher than previous reports. After a few months of communication between the authors and other PIs who are also authorities on sleep and cellular metabolism, it was found that some juvenile mistakes in chemical conversions (moles to grams) had been made. I still can’t find an erratum for this study in the Journal of Neuroscience. In a less publicized study featured in PLoS, a group of information technology researchers tracked a circadian rhythm in wikipedia posting and editing. After controlling for time zone, it was no shock to discover that wikipedia edits are greatest during the late night and fewest during the early morning. At last, a group of archaeologists reported the features of sleep quarters of our Neolithic ancestors in Science.
February: This was my most productive month of blogging aside from August. Athletically, I competed in the Garage Games, which featured four grueling team workouts that were completed across 8 hrs in 12 DEGREES!!! No, we only had clothing (or port-a-potties) to retain heat. I even brought pairs of Nitrile gloves because they do trap heat fairly well. I also began competing in the Reebok Fittest on Earth Open which started with 60,000 competitors from around the world. In science, I did a generalist post on the neurobiology of drug addiction after learning of Whitney Houston’s death. I also blogged about a really ambitious study from PNAS which utilized high throughput-screening methods that had to be super expensive(!!!) in order to identify pharmaceutical modulators of circadian rhythms measured in vitro.
March: In March, I learned that a year of doing varied, functional workouts at high intensity (crossfit) paid off because I qualified for the Reebok Fittest on Earth Regionals!!! I also learned about a new, likely non-science-based line of nutritional beverages aimed to improve brain health while attending my first conference at the NIH. At work, I presented an article on genetically mutant flies that had an enhanced ability to recover from sleep loss and concurrently retain normal levels of learning in memory, but couldn’t remember shit when starved.
April: Because I spent most of the month teaching, getting research together for our summer conference season, and doing 3-4 workouts a day in preparation for Regionals, I only blogged six times. I did, however, accurately predict that poor athletic performances and increased injuries of NBA players and cheap penalties by refs was due to the increased amount of trans-time zone travel. This post also included the workouts that I would be doing at Regionals. In sad news, we discovered that our dog, Eva, had died while we were at Regionals in West Palm Beach, FL.
May: After a few weeks of mourning, we finally decided to get a new dog, which happened to be a doxie (a daschund mix) named Amos. I spent most of May traveling to conferences including the International Behavioral Neural Genetic Society which was held in the beautiful city of Boulder, CO and then immediately to my favorite scientific meeting; Society for Research on Biological Rhythms in Sandestin,FL. I also did a photographic spread of the Regional Competition.
June: June was also a month of conference preparation and travel. A majority of my preparation for the SLEEP conference was administrative, however. I was in charge of the annual trainee scientific and professional development event that precedes the conference. While displeased with the content of the meeting since there was such a disproportional emphasis on clinical research, I did learn and then immediately buy a great book that everyone should read and own: On Bullshit. I also blogged about a study published from my former (undergraduate) lab on the relationship between depressive behaviors, sleep duration, and serotonin-related genetic polymorphisms.
July: I took a two-week “vacation” to Ft. Myers and Walt Disney World even though I ended up writing a collaborative grant, editing my own grant, and preparing a talk while there. Pathetic, I know.
August: August was a productive month for research so I didn’t blog as often as I would have liked; I re-submitted my NRSA and I also traveled to Rhode Island to attend and present at a sleep retreat hosted by my undergraduate advisor. August was also a very emotional month because I learned that my cousin had been in a near fatal motorcycle accident. He was given less than a 5% chance to survive. Although Jimmie has been a fighter, and his medical outlook has changed considerably since the accident, he still, unfortunately, is in a vegetative state.
September: In most of my 9 posts throughout September, I highlighted recent discoveries on the mechanisms of sleep at physiological and molecular levels, including the assessment of “sleep in a dish.” I also did an assessment of papers published on PubMed pertaining to the psychobiological consequences of 9/11. Lastly, via Huffington Post, I learned about a rising [brain] epidemic afflicting the Southwest called neurocysticerosis which manifests from a parasitic tapeworm found in unsanitary and undercooked pork.
October: Once again, I was selected to be a neuroblogger at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. The conference was held in New Orleans (finally!!!) which I had been yearning to visit since high school when we were denied marching in the Sugar Bowl parade because of its proximity to 9/11. The meeting was very frustrating because we came to learn that there was a significantly larger representation of basic sleep research at that meeting compared with our annual sleep meeting. After the meeting, I featured some cool technology that I was introduced to at SfN, including an at home EEG data acquistion system, and I very proudly wrote about a paper that I had recently published with a lab mate from graduate school; the study had taken almost four years to complete because we had to wait nearly two years for the animals to be of experimental age, it took about 6 months to undertake, another few months to analyze, and about a year to get published in its final form. The study examined the modulatory effects of aging and exercise on ethanol consumption in Syrian hamsters.
November/December: A majority of my posts focused on the metabolic and physiological benefits of crossfit . Towards the end of November, I began a three weekend circuit of competitions. The team that I compete on is graciously sponsored by companies specializing in apparel (Rx for Time, Hylete), nutrition (MHP), and accelerated recovery and enhanced athletic performance (Icebox Cryotherapy). I briefly highlighted the benefits of and my personal experiences with cryotherapy, which I will say has tremendously contributed to deeper, more consolidated sleep at night and improved my tolerance to winter temperatures in addition to its ability to mitigate soreness and inflammation.
At last, I would like to thank all of my readers for your continued support of my blog. In 2013, I aim to more frequently post about recent progress in circadian rhythms research because I have recently become a part of the communications committee for the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms. I have also recently agreed to have my blog content syndicated on Newstex.