A UC Davis Graduate Student Blog

Category: scientist_2.0

You Don’t Have to Be a Monk to Meditate

Anxiety, depression, insomnia — we all experience stress in one form or another and often on a daily basis. Most of us would like to think we’d do anything to diminish these hurdles to happiness, though it’s likely you’ve heard much praise for meditation yet never committed to giving the practice a proper go.

Perhaps you feel meditation is more effort than it’s worth, or that you’ll never master the skill because your mind is the kind that never rests. However, meditation is not meant to be complicated, nor does it have to be time consuming.

In her Nature Career Column article titled Building a meditation routine for a more productive, creative and happier scientific life, Ana Pineda, PhD shows us how simple meditation can be, offering four easy tips to begin practicing mindfulness meditation routinely in a way that’s achievable for everyone.

Scientists like Dr. Pineda are part of the growing number of individuals discovering mindfulness meditation as a free and uncomplicated way of alleviating stress and boosting productivity, focus, and creativity. If you haven’t tried mindful meditation yet or gave up too quickly on it once before, perhaps it’s time to give the practice an honest shot.

Stay healthy. Stay thirsty.

Nina Cueva


Resource suggestion made by: Yulong Liu

Edited by: Sydney Wyatt

The Molecular Biologist’s (Virtual) Toolbox

There are many useful tools out there to assist you with plasmid mapping, primer design, and DNA sequence analysis, so many that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Thankfully, Addgene has made it simple to find the exact tools you need with their Early Career Research Toolbox, which lists most, if not all, of the most useful free research tools available online for molecular biologists. In it, you’ll find tools to help you view, edit, and create plasmids, manipulate DNA sequences, identify and compare DNA and protein sequences to free online databases, facilitate cloning ligation reaction calculations, and more.

Even if you’re certain you already have all the tools you’ll ever use, I advise you to give Addgene’s toolbox a peek. You may just find a new application you didn’t know you needed.

May your thirst for knowledge never be quenched,

Nina Cueva


Resource suggestion made by: Yulong Liu

Edited by: Yulong Liu and Sydney Wyatt

Resources to Expand and Strengthen Your Skill Set

Would you like to supplement what you’ve learned in a previous course or a legitimate way to expand your expertise? Check out these nifty online resources sure to assist you in your academic and professional endeavors.


Coursera is an online learning platform brimming with educational opportunities. Browse through thousands of free online courses from a plethora of disciplines taught by reputable professors from distinguished universities and companies. Through Coursera, you can even obtain certificates and degrees proven to increase salaries and marketability, although these features require payment. Fear not, as payment for these features is very affordable. If money is still an issue, you can try applying for financial aid and scholarships offered through the platform itself.


If you’ve taken a computer programming or data science class but were left unsatisfied with your handle on the subject, consider signing up for a workshop organized by The Carpentries project. The Carpentries is a non-profit, community initiative based in California that strives to provide dependable and consistent fundamental computational and data science skills globally using evidence-based teaching practices.


If you can’t afford to pay for a Carpentries workshop, that’s okay; the UC Davis students, faculty, and staff of the College of Biological Sciences have you covered. They’ve graciously compiled these Interdisciplinary Tutorial Resources for those in need of some additional guidance in the areas of R/Rstudio, Python, Statistics, Machine Learning/AI, Genomics, and Light and Electron Microscopy.


May your thirst for knowledge never be quenched,




Resource suggestions made by: Yulong Liu, Ellen Osborn, and Sydney Wyatt


Edited by: Yulong Liu and Sydney Wyatt

Maintaining Social Connections While Sheltering in Place

Hello there, from my apartment to yours.


As of this Thursday, the United States surpassed both China and Italy to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. While the coronavirus continues to spread and millions of Americans self-isolate with no end in sight, many find themselves battling an inconspicuous enemy indoors: loneliness. The current practice of social distancing and sheltering in place is causing what some have termed a loneliness epidemic. As social creatures, this necessary practice can be difficult to sustain, since it prohibits us from interacting in person and holding social gatherings.


Loneliness also increases our risk for depression and anxiety, decreases our ability to respond to stress, and can weaken our immune systems, which effectively increases our susceptibility to contracting illnesses such as COVID-19. For these reasons, it’s important that we not only maintain calm and stop hoarding toilet paper and absurd amounts of perishable goods, but that we find unique ways of interacting and maintaining our social connections during these uncertain times. So, instead of panic scrolling through social media, consider listening to The Happiness Lab podcast by Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos and learn how to recreate a sense of togetherness and keep calm in their Coronavirus bonus series.


Additionally, if you’re experiencing heightened levels of stress, anxiety or need assistance managing an anxiety disorder, you may find the following articles helpful:




Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disengagement. Rather, this unique experience is an opportunity to come together and realize that, as cliche as it sounds, we’re all in this together. Afterall, it’s during times of crisis that it’s most important to remain connected.


  • Nina


Edited by Sydney Wyatt

Source suggested by Yulong Liu


For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.


Which Colors Should I Use? The Importance of Color Combinations in Scientific Figures

When creating scientific figures to best showcase your data, it is easy to overlook the importance of color scheme. When choosing color combinations, we tend to make our decisions predominately by what looks most appealing to our own eyes. However, it is crucial to remember that not everyone perceives color the same way. In the past, scientists often created fluorescent images and heatmaps using a green/red color scheme, making figures practically indiscernible by those with varying forms of colorblindness. The following article can help you learn to create illustrations that provide just as much contrast with arguably more visual appeal than a  green/red color arrangement, increasing the accessibility of your research. 



Article on color-blindness and scientific figures. 



A nifty web tool for helping you choose colorblind-friendly color schemes. Make sure to click on “colorblind safe” and “printer friendly” checkboxes. 






Edited by Keith Fraga

Source suggested by Yulong Liu


For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Making scientific figures with Adobe Illustrator

Illustrations are often an integral part of a scientific manuscript, especially when conveying complex ideas and data. Additionally, a beautiful illustration is just so nice to look at. Lucky for us, we don’t have to spend years to master drawing those illustrations anymore like in the good ol’ days because there are many software options available to help us make these illustrations. Adobe Illustrator is one of the most powerful tools out there for creating illustrations and is more versatile than the more commonly used Powerpoint. However, it is something that you might not be familiar with and with a slightly steeper learning curve. I came across a retweet from our very own Sydney Wyatt about this Adobe Illustrator guide wrote by Connie Jiang, an MD/PhD Student at UPenn, and I was amazed by how useful it was for a beginner user like me. The guide is orientated for scientists. It covers basic usage and also a range of specific topics such as design scale bar, making poster templates, and color-blind friendly colors. I hope you will find this guide useful, and make the transition from Powerpoint. 



Blog post





Edited by Sydney Wyatt 

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Informational interviews, a must-do for your next career move.

I truly believe informational interviews are one of the most important things you need to do when you are planning your next career move. An informational interview is a process by which you can access all the insider information about your next job that you most likely not going to find online. Sadly, I found the majority of the graduate students that I have talked to do not really know what it is or the purpose that these interviews serve. For those who have never heard of informational interviews before, it is a non-formal conversation to seek information about specific careers and companies. Although it’s not something from which you can be hired directly, the valuable information that you can get from this can give you a significant competitive edge and some even have received an actual interview directly from their interaction with the interviewer. In my personal experience, I did a couple of informational interviews for industry postdoc positions, and I found there are major differences in the optimal ways to apply for those same positions between companies. Here is a great video from Cheeky Scientist with useful tips and mistakes to avoid when you are conducting an informational interview, and the video is specifically tailored to graduate students. 





Edited by Jennifer Baily

This video was originally brought to my attention by the FUTURE program’s course. The FUTURE program is a career exploration/preparation course that I highly recommend to everyone. Here is their website if you are interested https://future.ucdavis.edu/  .   

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Tweet your way to success in science communication

Do you have a Twitter? Do you use Twitter to communicate and promote your science? In the past couple of years, Twitter has developed into the preferred social media platform for scientists to communicate their science to a broader audience. You may have heard of this already and even noticed that your favorite conference now has an official hashtag. However, it can be daunting for many people to make the leap into the Twitter-verse. That includes me. This blog article was co-authored by a UCD graduate student and contributor for Forbes, Priya Shukla(@priyology), is a great beginner guide for scientists who want to start their own Twitter. It also contains many useful tips and suggestions tailored for scientists to get you up running in no time. As the article suggests, communicating your science to a broader audience can help you become more well known in your field and even may help you to find your next job. 


-Yulong Liu 


Edited by Keith Fraga

This article was originally introduced to me from the FUTURE program’s course. The FUTURE program is a career exploration/preparation course that I highly recommend everyone to take. Here is their website if you are interested https://future.ucdavis.edu/  .   


For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

Keep calm and read on – Top tips for staying on top of your reading

Do you know there are about 2.5 million papers published each year? It certainly can be difficult and daunting to keep track of the relevant papers that are related to your research. You may already know about using Google Scholar or PubCrawler to keep you updated, but are you using them efficiently? I have seen many people’s weekly update with hundreds of papers because they are using very general terms. It’s understandable that you don’t want to miss anything, but you are going to spend so much time combing through them. Here are the “Ten tips to stay on top of your reading during grad school” from the publisher PLOS, including tips on how to optimize your search terms by using Boolean operators like AND and OR.



-Yulong Liu


Edited by Emily Cartwright

Suggested by Keith Fraga

For any content suggestions or general recommendations, please email to UCDBioScope@gmail.com and put science 2.0 in the title.

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