A Week In The Life

Courtney Yaeger

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

(Early) I run almost every morning before I go to lab. I'm training for the LA marathon (my third) and have a lot of miles to put in to be ready. Because I have a lot of imaging and experiments to do this week, when I get into lab I'll do some routine preparations. I will screen specimens and check for any adjustments needed.

Experimental set-up in the Trachtenberg lab
Experimental set-up in the Trachtenberg lab

Afternoon

I'm working on analyzing dendritic calcium events, but there is no set protocol because no one has done it! I'll search the literature for electrophysiological experiments and models of neural activity and plasticity to guide my analysis.

Evening

I will be submitting an NRSA in November, so my evenings are often filled with grant writing.

Tuesday

Morning

I'll do a workout and then hit the graduate student gym before coming in. It's an experiment day so in the morning I will collect baseline data in the morning.

Our recording GUI, showing real-time changes in fluorescence.
Our recording GUI, showing real-time changes in fluorescence.

Afternoon

Meet with faculty to discuss finalizing a grant. This grant will allow us to collaborate with a group in cognitive psychchology: we want to create an evaluation for our outreach class called Project Brainstorm (I ran the program last year and am still involved in neuroscience outreach events).

Evening

Grant writing: is this done yet?

Wednesday

Morning

My usual morning run will be followed by day two of my experiment. Today I will observe changes in cortical activity after monocular deprivation.

Afternoon

Continue analyzing dendrite data and parsing out local events, back propagation, and modulation with stimulation and changes in behavioral state.

Evening

Grant writing with intermittent breaks with my favorite tv show :)

Thursday

Morning

It's my day off from running! I get to sleep in a little before starting day three of my experiment, which is a continuation of yesterday.

Afternoon

Meet with Project Brainstorm's new TA to discuss progress on the undergraduate outreach course NS192B and our new plans for Brain Awareness Week 2016.

Last year’s participants in Brain Awareness Week, our largest neuroscience outreach event. Last year’s participants in Brain Awareness Week, our largest neuroscience outreach event.
Last year’s participants in Brain Awareness Week, our largest neuroscience outreach event.

Evening

Finalize a draft of my grant to send to Josh (my PI) and eat some chocolate to celebrate another step towards submission.

Friday

Morning

Early in the morning I'll be putting some miles on my running shoes. It's the last day of my experiment, so I will finish data collection and begin pre-processing the data.

Afternoon

After analyzing data, I like to attend the weekly Synapse to Circuit talk... there's always free beer!

Evening

I'm having a girls'-night-out with some of my friends in Santa Monica. There are a million places to go!

Saturday

Morning

Sleep in and short run day! I love to take my time in the mornings and make a nice brunch.

Afternoon

If I've got some extra writing or reading to do I like to hunker down at one of my favorite cozy cafes in Westwood: Espresso Profeta.

Evening

It seems there’s always something to do on a Saturday night. Although I’m usually just hanging out with friends or going to a favorite bar, I also like to go to the Hollywood Bowl and catch the LA Phil.

The LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl, from the best seat I ever had!
The LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl, from the best seat I ever had!

Sunday

Morning

It's long run day! I'll run at least 16 miles in the morning... I like to run through Rustic Canyon and on Topanga trails, but I inevitably end up on the beach.

I took this on one of my first long runs in LA, not a bad place to be!
I took this on one of my first long runs in LA, not a bad place to be!

Afternoon

After brunch, I'll need a nap! If I can stay awake, while I've got food on my mind I'll go to the grocery store or the farmer's market.

Evening

Sunday nights are calm... usually I'll wind down with some Netflix or some light reading, and prep my planner for the week.

Jennifer Tribble

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

I plan out my experiments and double check my calendar for the week. I try to get my lunches figured out for the week, so I don’t have to buy food on campus too often!

Afternoon

I work on compiling data from the week before, and make sure I have everything in order for my experiments throughout the rest of the week.

Evening

I usually come home to a nice, relaxing dinner and watch Monday night football!

Tuesday

Morning

Alongside my research, I am the STEM Graduate Career Consultant at UCLA’s Career Center. I usually spend Tuesday mornings either attending one of their seminars or workshops, or working closely with the Graduate Student Services team to develop programs for graduate professional development.

Afternoon

I attend the Joint Seminar in Neuroscience talk for a lunch break, and then get back to experiments! Sometimes, I even attend lunch with the speaker for an opportunity to further discuss research.

Evening

Typically I spend Tuesday evening reading papers from the week that are relevant to my field. I use this time to brainstorm new experimental ideas, or next steps in my current experiments.

Wednesday

Morning

I have my office hours for the class I am TAing, an undergraduate neuroscience course.

Afternoon

I usually schedule meetings with collaborators or my supervisors on Wednesday afternoons. If my afternoon is free, I try to get in a quick trip to the gym in between experiments!

Evening

I hold STEM graduate student drop-in advising in the Biomedical Library of CHS. It’s a great chance to get a quick CV or resume review, or talk about career preparation!

Thursday

Morning

I attend lab meeting, and make sure to speak to my P.I. about my experiments for the week.

Afternoon

I try to fit in an experiment before attending lecture for the class I am TAing at 2 PM.

Evening

I meet with the group of coordinators from AWiSE (Advancing Women in Science and Engineering) to talk about upcoming events and de-brief past events. This week, we had a panel called “Beyond your PhD: Careers in Biotech” where graduate students can meet with professional women from the industry for valuable insight on that career path.

Friday

Morning

I teach discussion sections for the class I am TAing. Otherwise, I would attend the Learning and Memory journal club in Gonda.

Afternoon

I use the afternoon to finish up any remaining experiments from the week, or analyze data.

Evening

I get together with a few friends for baking and a game night. Pie

Saturday

Morning

Typically I spend the morning catching up on lost sleep! Then, I make a protein filled breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Afternoon

I try to make it out to the beach, or explore LA. Otherwise, I catch up on emails and random tasks while watching college football.

Beach

Evening

I meet up with friends for a drink, usually in Santa Monica or Culver City.

Sunday

Morning

I meet friends for brunch. Usually we go to a local favorite, P’tit Solei, but this time we tried Areal in Santa Monica.

Afternoon

I do laundry, catch up on tidying and cleaning the apartment, and make sure my agenda is set for the week. I also recently completed a DIY project of painting Ikea shelves!

IKEA shelf

Evening

I usually try to get to sleep early as to get a good start on the following week after relaxing with a cup of tea and a good book.

David DiTullio

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

Now that I’ve finished my qualifying exams and advanced to candidacy, I have a lot of experiments to get going on my thesis work! I’m trying to get better about planning out my week. I use a new online notebook which helps me stay organized (kind of like Google drive for lab).

Afternoon

I usually have oligodendrocyte progenitor cells growing from the weekend before that are ready to be transfected with some of my novel genes of interest. I’ll let them grow for several days and then assess their degree of differentiation.

Evening

Monday nights are Karaoke night! Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a LOT going on in L.A. and a lot of excellent singers. I’m not one of them, but it’s a lot of fun to hang out with a bunch of amazing singers. I compete with some of my other friends around L.A. in a karaoke league. Last season, we were runners-up!

Monday Karaoke night

Tuesday

Morning

Tuesdays are generally reserved for cell culture isolation. Most of my work right now involves assaying OPC cultures, so I spend 1-2 days per week preparing the cultures, and the rest of the days assaying and analyzing data.

Afternoon

Fortunately, the cell culture preps have several incubation steps, so I can generally meet my classmates for lunch. I still get lunch 2-3 times per week with my cohort in the science quad. It’s nearby, has lots of sunny outdoor seating, and is a great chance to stay caught up with my class!

Evening

I love my UCLA classmates, but I also find that sometimes it’s nice to get away from the UCLA bubble. So Tuesday nights generally are game night, with some friends I just met over the last couple years. They’re all in different fields, working “real” jobs, so it’s pretty refreshing. Plus, I usually win (no big) so that’s cool. Settlers of Catan is a standard, but recently we’ve been branching out to Power Grid, the Game of Thrones board game, and a ton of others.

Tuesday evening games

Wednesday

Morning

Generally a quiet day, on Wednesday mornings I start out with cell culture upkeep – I check on the cells isolated yesterday, and feed the transfected cells from Monday.

Afternoon

Most major journals release their new tables of contents on Wednesday (J Neurosci, Nature, etc.) so Wednesday is a day to catch up on the literature. I get email alerts so I can browse the TOCs and read any interesting papers.

Evening

With the week half over, Wednesday evenings are usually flexible. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of movies (a lot of times movies are released sooner in LA than other cities), especially horror movies. But it’s also nice to walk to the neighborhood bar and get some food and happy hour drinks with a friend. The bartenders are starting to recognize us, which is both scary and kind of awesome. L.A. people can walk to bars, too!

Thursday

Morning

Another cell prep day! The morning is spent getting everything going, but at this point I’m pretty efficient which is a relief.

Afternoon

Usually I have some random meetings to go to, which I usually try to schedule around experiments. These meetings are usually in relation to some of the extracurricular activities I’m helping out in the Neuroscience program. It’s a great way to meet students in other years of the program.

Evening

Either Wednesday or Thursday night I’ll usually spend a night at home to work on other projects or hobbies. For example, I took piano lessons all through school and college, so it’s nice to practice some new pieces.

Friday

Morning

Lab meeting at 9am! The whole lab meets to discuss our progress, any issues we’re facing, and general lab upkeep.

Afternoon

Generally I prepare the cells that I’ve been testing over the week and prepare them for analysis, which I’ll get ready over the weekend or on the following Monday morning.

Evening

Lab ends generally with chalk talks, where one person presents their research or a recent journal article in more depth than lab meeting. We have snacks and beers, and chat afterwards for a bit. Then, we often go to lab happy hour around UCLA for a few hours. After that, I’ll usually go to dinner with friends and then out to see live music, for drinks, to a friend’s house, or whatever else is going on that weekend.

Saturday

The weekends vary so much from week to week that it’s almost impossible to give a summary of what I do. The thing I love about L.A. is that you can do something different every single day. But around this time of year, it’s great weather for hiking in Malibu (about 30 minutes away) or Pasadena, if you want to go east (about 45 minutes). The beach is also a ~10 minute drive or bus ride away. The other great thing about Saturdays, at least in the Fall, is that it’s UCLA Football game day! I didn’t go to an undergrad with a big sports presence, so it’s been a lot of fun experiencing that at UCLA by tailgating and just hanging out at the Rose Bowl. Highly recommend trying it out at least once! These random activites are some of the great benefits of going to a place like UCLA.

tailgating Football game

Sunday

The only thing different about Sunday compared to Saturday is that I may go into lab for a couple hours to feed my cells and prepare tests to analyze them on Monday morning. I like going in in the morning to get it done so I can enjoy my day, and if I go early enough, I can make it to brunch! My favorite place is an outdoor patio restaurant in Santa Monica overlooking the ocean, for obvious reasons. In a few months, I’m hoping to spend at least a few weekends in Mammoth or Big Bear for skiing. I also have several friends in San Francisco, which is a 1 hour flight or 5 hour drive away, so once every couple months I go up there to visit for the weekend. If I’m around L.A., at night I’ll usually go to dinner or out to a movie, or watch Walking Dead/Game of Thrones/Netflix at home with my roommate. It’s also a good time for a spontaneous game night with some Neuroscience classmates!

skiing
Cynthia He

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

I have a series of imaging time-points coming up this week and next week, so I spend the morning preparing for this week’s experiments and catching up on email.

office space

Afternoon

I attend lab meeting, where each member gives a quick update on last week’s work, and we discuss some equipment issues. One lab member leads a journal club discussion on a recently published article. After lab meeting, I prepare for tomorrow’s Neuroscientific Methods class, which another second-year and I are student-teaching this quarter.

Evening

I have dinner at home (I live in graduate housing in Westwood), pick up groceries at Trader Joe’s, and Skype with my fiancé, who is a grad student at Stanford.

Tuesday

Morning

This morning I read recent neuroscience publications and also process some of my older imaging data files.

Afternoon

I attend a lunch at the Faculty Club with a visiting speaker for the Joint Seminars in Neuroscience, and then I head to the Methods class. This seminar-format class is taken by the first-year neuroscience graduate students, and each week focuses on a different technique. After class I attend the Joint Seminar talk, then return to lab to finish up my work for the day.

Evening

I go for a workout at the graduate student gym, then return home for dinner.

Wednesday

Morning

I continue Monday’s experimental preparations and also talk with another lab member about some upcoming electrophysiology experiments.

Afternoon

I meet a friend for lunch on campus (lunch outdoors in January being one of the obvious perks of LA; picture of this lunch spot below), then return to lab for one of my imaging time-points. My project uses two-photon imaging to study spontaneous and evoked network activity in the somatosensory cortex, so I spend this afternoon on the microscope rig.

campus

Evening

Tonight I improvise on a chocolate cake recipe by adding extra cocoa powder, egg, ricotta, and chopped walnuts.

cake

Thursday

Morning

I have breakfast with one of the undergraduate students working in the lab. She plans to apply to graduate school and is getting ready for the application cycle. The rest of the morning I spend working on data analysis.

Afternoon

More imaging.

Evening

I attend a dinner with some of the finalists interviewing for this year’s Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. I am a Soros Fellow from 2013, and it is always great to meet the new finalists and to reconnect with Fellows from earlier years.

Friday

Morning

Today is devoted to data analysis, reading, and email. I also touch base with my PI, Carlos Portera-Cailliau, and we discuss my current experiments.

Afternoon

Continuing the morning’s work, though at some point I get coffee and go for a walk around campus.

Evening

Yoga, dinner, and Skype.

Saturday

Morning

Laundry and errands.

Afternoon

I meet up with some friends near downtown LA for “Trapped In A Room With a Zombie,” in which our group has an hour to try and solve various clues in order to “escape” from the [actor] zombie. We nearly but don’t completely solve all the clues and thus still get “eaten,” but regardless it’s entertaining.

trapped in a room with a zombie

Evening

Dinner with a friend at one of the many great Persian restaurants in Westwood. Later in the evening I call my parents, and finally I drop by a colleague’s party.

Sunday

Morning

In lab for another experimental time-point.

Afternoon

I leave lab mid-afternoon and pick up groceries, then go for a run.

Evening

After cooking dinner with leftovers for weekday lunches, I organize my calendar for the week, write some cards, Skype, and unwind with some Netflix. (Picture taken from my apartment window.)

trapped in a room with a zombie
Ryan Guglietta

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

Get to lab early to set up experiments for the day. I record from hippocampal slices, so while they recover I usually like to go to a nearby coffee shop and read for a bit.

Afternoon

Start gathering data and meet with my PI, Tom O’Dell, to discuss experiments for the week. Grab lunch and enjoy a little time outside.

Evening

Head to the graduate student gym on my way home (free for grad students). Make some dinner afterwards, chat with my roommate, and usually take it easy (it is Monday, after all).

Tuesday

Morning

Similar to Monday. I’m the Biological Student Council (BSC) representative for the neuroscience program so I usually answer Emails in the morning from the day before.

Afternoon

Collect data. Attend the Joint Seminars in Neuroscience talk often given by visiting professors on a weekly basis. I often partake in the (free) lunch beforehand with the speaker and other grad students.

Evening

Go out to Santa Monica to get dinner with friends and enjoy some scenic beach views. Participate in the weekly trivia night in SM and subsequently get beaten by the suspiciously high number of jeopardy champions that attend.

Wednesday

Morning

Similar to Monday and Tuesday (the life of a hippocampal electrophysiologist is remarkably consistent). Get coffee with lab mates in the morning and organize/analyze my data from the days before.

Afternoon

Go off campus to get lunch with friends and run experiments.

Evening

Continue my ongoing board game championship with a group of friends. Proceed to dominate any and all challengers.

Thursday

Morning

You guessed it.

Afternoon

Go to a “Careers In…” talk/panel to find out information on potential career paths after grad school. Attend a BSC meeting at the end of the day to discuss program budgets, graduate school policies, and plan fun events for our colleagues. Dinner catered by the counsel.

Evening

Get drinks with friends over our (non-science related) book club. Tangentially discuss the book while the libations flow.

Friday

Morning

Surprise! Attend the weekly Integrative Center for Learning and Memory Journal Club in the morning (free breakfast provided!). THEN set up for experiments.

Afternoon

Collect data until the Synapse to Circuits Journal Club (equipped with beer and snacks). As may be evident at this point, a grad student can get a lot of free meals over the week if they plan correctly. Debrief my PI on what I got up to during the week.

Evening

Go to an evening show for one of the local comedy troupes (Groundlings or UCB) and get drinks afterwards.

Saturday

Morning

Sleep in and enjoy a cup of coffee on the couch, reading the news or catching up on some shows. Usually get brunch with friends.

Afternoon

Go to one of the hundreds of nearby hiking spots to remind myself I live in California. Sometimes take a day/evening trip to Vegas/Palm Springs/San Diego/etc. Lab is also an option depending on how my current projects are going.

Afternoon hike

Evening

Catch a movie at the Fox in Westwood or one of the many other beautiful theaters scattered around the city. Watch the painful demise of Kobe at a Lakers game in Staples Center.

Afternoon hike

Sunday

Morning

Sleep in and enjoy a cup of coffee on the couch, reading the news or catching up on some shows. I do love my morning consistencies.

Afternoon

Head to the UCLA marine aquatics center in Marina del Rey to rent (FREE) Kayaks. Boat around with some sea lions, pet some leopard sharks, get a sunburn despite my best efforts, etc.

Evening

Mentally plan out what I want to get accomplished next week. Enjoy some Game of Thrones/Walking Dead/other Sunday gold depending on the season.

Rachel Jonas

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

Come into lab and catch up on emails from the weekend. Make to-do list for the week. Have brief meeting with undergraduate SRPs to make a plan for the week. Work on preprocessing of fMRI data.

Work on preprocessing of fMRI data

Afternoon

Run training session on new fMRI analysis method in lab for SRPs and other lab members. Focus on running statistics on my structural MRI data for the rest of the day.

Evening

I meet up with my group of girlfriends for dinner at one of our apartments for a weekly catch-up.

Tuesday

Morning

Lab meeting in the morning, and catch up with other lab members. In lab meeting, a post-doc gives a practice presentation for a job talk.

Afternoon

Focus on research, and attend lecture for undergraduate course I am TAing. Attend weekly Joint Seminars in Neuroscience lecture. Work on revisions for a manuscript I will be resubmitting.

Evening

Quiet night at home. Cook dinner and watch a movie.

Wednesday

Morning

Work on application for a training grant. Meet with statistics collaborator and my PI to discuss my project.

Afternoon

Run office hours and work on presentations I give during Friday discussion/review sessions. Finalize figures for manuscript revision.

Evening

Attend a weekly event put on by the UCLA Anderson School of Management (where my boyfriend is a student). This is a great way to meet people from other graduate programs at UCLA.

Thursday

Morning

Run an MRI scan on a subject, and attend Brain Mapping Center lecture.

Afternoon

Attend undergraduate course lecture and complete presentations for Friday. Attend the Neuroimaging Journal Club, where we discuss new papers related to MRI methods. Catch up with undergraduate SRPs on their progress this week. Meet senior graduate student for coffee to ask advice about advanced courses.

Evening

Attend a UCLA basketball game at Pauley Pavilion. I try to attend as many basketball and football games throughout the year as possible, which is easy since students get such a great deal on the season pass!

UCLA basketball game at Pauley Pavilion

Friday

Morning

Come into lab early and finish up any last minute prep for course. Teach two 75-minute classes for undergraduate course. During this class, I administer a quiz, run a group discussion of a recent paper, and review lecture material.

Afternoon

Grade quizzes from the morning lectures and take care of other paperwork and student concerns. Catch up on any loose ends from research from the week, and begin to prepare for upcoming lab meeting presentation on Aim 1 of my project.

Evening

Grab dinner and drinks in Westwood with friends in my cohort. We try to get together every couple of weeks to catch up, especially since we are no longer in core classes together.

Saturday

Morning

Spend a couple of hours at my favorite coffee shop in LA, catching up on any writing or literature reading I need to do for my project.

My favorite coffee shop

Afternoon

Go on an afternoon hike with two of my girlfriends in Malibu. The weather is always great in LA, so we are able to hike year-round!

Afternoon hike

Evening

Group dinner in Santa Monica with my boyfriend and a group of our friends. We have a couple of go-to restaurants that we frequent, followed by drinks at a bar.

Sunday

Morning

The first thing I do every Sunday morning is attend the Brentwood Farmer’s Market. It’s just around the corner from my apartment, and is my go-to spot for produce, fruits, and flowers (and they even have a petting zoo and pony rides!).

My favorite coffee shop My favorite coffee shop

Afternoon

Meet up with some friends for a late brunch by the beach. Then, go food shopping (Trader Joes!), clean, and do laundry.

Evening

Relax at home, watch TV, and prepare myself for the upcoming week.

Kate Fehlhaber

Follow Me For A Week

Monday

Morning

When I get to lab, I return emails and put together my plan for the week.

Afternoon

I continue analyzing data that I collected the previous week.

Evening

I am editor-in-chief of Knowing Neurons, a neuroscience education website. Our team meets weekly via Google Hangout to discuss the upcoming posts and new submissions.

Tuesday

Morning

As a core member of the UCLA Business of Science Center (BSC), I help plan and coordinate events throughout the year. Right now, the AWiSE group (Advancing Women in Science and Engineering) is discussing what events to host throughout the year, particularly in the Fall quarter.

UCLA Business of Science Center

Afternoon

I attend the weekly BSC meeting, which is open to anyone interested in learning about how business and science intersect. The topics of these meetings are quite diverse, including interview skills, resume writing, entrepreneurship, and patent law. Today we are hearing from a UCLA professor, who invented a new biomedical device that will be the focus of a venture team. The goal of the venture team is to decide if the device is ready for market. When I get back to lab, I make solutions and set up for tomorrow’s experiment.

Evening

I go to a yoga class in Westwood, and before I go home, I stop at a farmer’s market in my neighborhood to get fresh fruits and vegetables.

Farmer's Market

Wednesday

Morning

Today is experiment day! I’m in the Sampath lab, and we study early visual processing in the retina. Because we are interested in measuring responses from different neurons in the retina when the retina has not yet been exposed to light, the preparations for my experiments are done in complete darkness. I get to wear infrared goggles so I can navigate and make retinal slices.

Afternoon

I record light-evoked responses from rods and bipolar cells in the retina using electrophysiological techniques.

Evening

I meet a friend for drinks at a local bar.

Thursday

Morning

I analyze the data I collected yesterday and decide how to proceed with future experiments.

Afternoon

I meet some friends and classmates to go swimming at one of UCLA’s outdoor pools. It’s nice to break up the day with some swimming! When I get back to lab, I make solutions and set up for tomorrow’s experiment.

Evening

Summers are my favorite time of year in Los Angeles. There are so many free concerts and events! Tonight, I’m going to a concert on the Santa Monica pier with a group of friends.

Santa Monica Pier

Friday

Morning

Today is another experiment day! I continue to record light-evoked responses in different neurons in the retina.

Afternoon

I attend the Jules Stein Eye Institute’s noon seminar and distinguished lecture series. Then I go back to lab to continue my experiment.

Evening

Almost every week, there is a movie premier in Westwood. Tonight, my friend had an extra ticket, so I got to walk the red carpet with the stars! It was so much fun seeing celebrities so close, and I even got to snap some photos with a few of them!

Westwood Movie Premier

Saturday

Morning

I go for a bike ride along a bike path from Culver City, where I live, to Marina del Rey, where the Ballona Creek bike path meets up with the Santa Monica bike path that runs right along the beach.

Afternoon

I edit article submissions for Knowing Neurons, create images to accompany upcoming articles, or write my own piece for the site.

Evening

I meet friends for dinner and a game night.

Sunday

Morning

Some weekends I do an experiment, but this weekend I meet a friend for yoga, and afterwards we go for brunch. We always try a new place, so we can explore different neighborhoods.

Afternoon

Today is the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, so I head over there with some friends to see what gems we can find.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Evening

I analyze data I collected last week and send an update to my PI. I read new publications in my field and other fun neuroscience discoveries that I find interesting.