Bits of Excitement

Word came today from the application review board!

“We expect to have an update for applicants next week. Thank you for your patience as we give your applications the attention they deserve.”

At least I’m not out, yet. It’ll be a nerve-wracking  week and a half. I can only assume that ‘next week’ really means ‘the very end of next week, don’t rush us!’.  This kind of excitement is usually reserved for my birthday, or Christmas, or when waiting for final grades to be posted.

I’ve actually got a few things to share today for YOU GUYS to be excited about.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Hubble have just announced the 2012 Hubble’s Hidden Treasures  Competition.

Everyone, absolutely everyone, is invited to help the ESA discover some of the magnificent photographs lurking in the archives. Vast datasets are available to the public, all you have to do is be patient enough to find a new, interesting/inspirational/beautiful file, adjust the contrast and colors, and upload it to the contest Flickr group. As an extra challenge, you may also use provided software to transform data into breath-taking images. These images can be uploaded to a separate Flickr accounts.

Winners receive an iPod Touch or an iPad.

Both competitions close on 31 May 2012.

I would encourage everyone to try and share the contest information, get your children involved, get something going in a classroom, whatever you can think of! I am going to try and link the two Flickr accounts so that they appear on the sidebars of this blog. Stay tuned!

The other bits of excitement I’d like to share with you are two blogs by Women In Science. Young women, at that! I was chatting with a new friend of mine about my blog and he was cruel enough to share these two with me, even though he knows I’m supposed to be ultra productive these days.

I’ve added these to my ‘Other Voices’ section on the left, but I’ll provide a quick overview of the blogs.

The Contemplative Mammoth: [From the listed description] I blog about ecology and climate change over various time scales –ranging from the last ice age to the present– and how our understanding of the past can help prepare us for the future. I also write about my experience in grad school and academia, share book reviews and interesting journal articles, and discuss science literacy, science communication in all forms…and the occasional dung fungus.

Adventures Elsewhere: This blog is much more broad and often seems very journal-like. However, it is penned by a young woman in grad schools so I can relate to a lot of the posts and perhaps you would find it enjoyable, as well. I’m looking forward to reading more, which is quite a task as she started the blog in 2009. 

So thanks to New Friend Sean for sharing, and I hope everyone else can follow in his footsteps by sharing their favorite blog/website/photo site/etc. Doesn’t have to be any particular topic; I just want to know what you enjoy reading/viewing!

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Question of The Day:
Of course, what are your favorite blogs/websites/etc?
What are you currently excited about?

Hindsight is 20/20

It has been 12 days since applications went in and the review board started the process of going through 700 passionate, hopeful packets.

“As we go through the applications, we are blown away by the caliber and the passion of the applicants. You all are amazing.” Hi-SEAS Facebook Page

 I’m beyond happy to hear about all of the interest and passion that others have for this project. At the same time, I’m naturally nervous about my chances of being selected for the next round. I wonder how many women applied? How many biologists? How many ambitious, fun-loving, algae growers? Did I properly convey my passion, skill set, research proposal, etc? Gulp.

It’s so easy to start doubting yourself when you know that someone is judging you through a spattering of words in a few essays and a CV or resume. There’s plenty more you could have included to convince reviewers that you are the one they’ve been waiting for. It may even be nerve-wracking enough to think you shouldn’t even bother to apply. 
Hopefully, you don’t let your fears dictate your decisions. Putting yourself out there for people to see is a part of life that we must embrace. College. Jobs. Internships. Travel opportunities. Contests. Rewards certainly outweigh any nervousness or concerns. This is one of those many situations where practice makes perfect. The more eyes you invite to gaze upon your   drafts, the more opportunity you have to learn from the experience of others. 
I once nearly didn’t apply for a interesting program. The deadline was a day away. I was jetlagged from returning from an internship. I didn’t think I’d be selected. But, I pushed through, determined and feeling a little silly from lack of sleep, and three months later I was in Thailand with Malibu Rum and Reef Check as a ‘beach intern’ getting my island on. If you are a doubter, just ask yourself ‘what if?’.
I’m proud and confidant in my Hi-SEAS application. I worked hard, finished in time for editing and revisions, and infused humor and voice into my essays. However, I believe no matter how hard you work, there will always be things you remember afterwards that would’ve improved it even more. So here are my Top 5 Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve’s:
What Would I have Done Differently to my Application with just One More Sol (Martian Day)
Microalgae requires much less US
cropland than other sources. 
  1. Sneak in the names of all Mars exploration programs, rovers, and orbiters, past and present. (I kinda got stuck on Mariner.) 
  2. Emphasize the importance and viability of algae biofuel compared to other biofuel sources (Table 1). 
  3. Add more college service commitments to my CV (how did these sneak off my CV during its many, many iterations?)
  4. Started this blog earlier so that I could have focused on it within my Online Activity essay. 
  5. Have my ol’ college chum, Sara Ferguson, look over my CV. 
Questions of the Day:
What will you be applying to next? Are you nervous?
Fellow applicants, what would you change/add to/remove from your application?

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Stuff your Face Saturday

It’s been nearly a week since I started this blog and I have yet to talk about food! I’ve been cooking it. I’ve been thinking about it. And I’ve certainly been eating it!

I’ve been meaning to give my crock pot some love, and make some (not)refried beans, so might as well take everyone along for the ride.

This is an excellent recipe that could be converted to meet the requirements of space travel. Dry beans can be stored for 10-30 years while all of the other ingredients can be stored as dry spices. Imagine some smooth, spicy beans after an 8 month trip to Mars!

Ingredients (minus jalapeno) 

I am only making a half serving compared tot he website recipe. The first time I didn’t leave enough room in the crock pot to let the beans expand! Rookie mistake. The beans take about 4-5 hours on HIGH.

Remember to leave room for the beans to expand!

Come back later to see the final product!
EDIT: Here it is, folks! I’ve already realized that I foolishly did not think to add that extra New Mexico kick! Next time I will be adding Hatch’s famous green chilis! I wonder how long they’d last in space….

Finished product. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must stuff my face!
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