Hullo and welcome! My name is Aditya and i’m a graduate student currently working in the lab of Dr. David Mitchell. I study, through many biochemical and biophysical techniques, the swimming mechanism of a tiny little critter called Chlamydomonas rheinhardtii. Chlamydomonas is a single-celled organism and has two whip-like organelles called ‘flagella’ or ‘cilia’ (interchangeable terms for the most part) which help it swim. These flagella are in themselves, marvels of engineering. The reason i say this is because it isn’t a trivial thing to produce the hundreds of proteins that make up the flagella and then assemble and transport these proteins out into the flagella and then make them move at exact intervals of time in response to very specific signals with microsecond accuracies. That is the inherent allure of the system. The complexity and the fun one can have in figuring out the various bits and pieces of this complex structure. Why is of interest to humanity at large? Because EVERY cell has at least one flagellum or cilium. Even if the cell is not motile, i.e. does not swim, it needs a cilium to help it interact with the world around it. Defects in cilia lead to various conditions such as abnormal formation of the heart, loss of assymetry in the body, polycystic kidney disease etc. Which is why it is important for us to study the specific roles that various proteins play in the formation and regulation of ciliary motility. Chlamydomonas is the ideal system for us to study because it is easy to grow in the lab, it has TWO flagella per cell (so twice the yeild!), AND these cilia are easy to pull off the cell and isolate. This makes a myriad of experiments possible which would just not be possible with other test subjects.
With the help of the good scientists Jai and Jarrett, and the people at Rockethub, I plan on embarking on a journey to fund some of my research through the power of Crowdfunding. The realtime/realworld/real people approach of this method is an exceptionally powerful and inherently interesting phenomenon. I’ve long been a fan of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and when Zach demonstrated the use of crowdfunding platforms to raise money for projects i thought “WOW! I wonder if it’ll work for science!??!?”
The answer, hopefully, is a resounding “YES!”
This is where you come in, dear reader. Patron extraordinaire. A lover of the sciences. Nourisher (if that’s a word) of the intellect. Benefactor of the downtrodden masses of grad students and impoverished Professors. You are all that is good with the world, all that is noble and pure and simple. You are the last bastion of that elusive attribute – Kindness. Also, you want the wonderful rewards promised in return for your patronage (More on that in later posts). Rewards you couldn’t get from a supermarket. Or even from a specialty store online. Rewards that are intimate and personal. An inside conversation shared only between you and the scientist you adopted. The satisfaction that comes with having known you’ve done a good deed. The deep personal peace that is a hallmark of having been part of something bigger and more beautiful than oneself. Of having had an impact on humanity at large and having been thanked for it.
With that piece of hyperbole (which is sincere but won’t be in any grant application), let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to this page and hopefully to many others like this at the #SciFund Challenge.
Over the next few weeks, i will be putting up details of my project and outlining your role in helping me achieve its goals.
Here’s hoping that you, wonderful reader, will find my work just as interesting as I do and would be willing to show your support for it by way of generous monetary contributions.
WELCOME! and THANK YOU!