Last Year of University & Becoming A Scientist

This will be the last year of college for this girl and I am excited about what is ahead. It seemed like yesterday when I received my late acceptance to Northwest University two weeks before the start of classes! I thank the Lord everyday for this opportunity, especially since it took so long to finally go back to school.


I have learned and grown a lot since stepping foot on campus two years ago. In nine months I will be walking across the stage and graduate with my Bachelors of Science in Biology and Chemistry. I am forever grateful to my colleagues at Dendreon and Seattle biotech for support all these years for getting me to this point. So grateful for you all!


As I have said many times, life is a science experiment and there are many adventures worth taking. Being in science is an adventure in its self. The hard paths in life are the ones with the best views. I don’t doubt it! I remember thinking back when I was getting my Associates degree how so much had been found already that there is nothing left to discover. Fast forward years later, there is still a whole lot to discover.


This year my main goal is to graduate from Northwest in May- nine months out. Other goals is to study hard, have time for self-care and have fun along the way. I realized back in Tanzania I needed to step up my game when it came to de-stressing from all the stress during the week. This year is going to be stressful, and I am ready for it.


I love being a scientist and a women in STEM. Science is not an easy subject, but once you master it, you go far! I have done a lot in the short amount of time at Northwest and in biotech. I never imagined when I was in high school this is what I would be doing or helping to find a cure for cancer. I am still in aw at it all.

To all those girls out there loving STEM, keep going!! We need more of you! I hope one day you will graduate with a degree in something you are passionate about. Never give up!


What I wore:

Shirt: Northwest University t-shirt (Eagle Exchange)
Jeans: Curvy Profile blue jeans (Old Navy)
Shoes: Maroon All Stars Converses (DSW)
Glasses: Via Spiga (Costco Optical)

White Lab Coat: Dickies Work Wear (Amazon)
Navy Dress: Sheath dress (Land’s End)
Shoes: Nude pumps Jessica Simpson (DSW)

Hair: Tracy King Designs (Seattle)


Victorian Murder Mystery: The International Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

The game is afoot….

Sherlock Holmes is a much-loved “high functioning sociopath” we all are very familiar with. I would not call me a fan girl of the show Sherlock, but I cannot wait for the new season to come in the BBC in January 2017. So I could not resist going to see The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Pacific Science Center instead of braving the Black Friday craziness.

Outside the exhibition

The day was a crisp cold day in downtown Seattle with some sunshine peeking out from the clouds. With a peppermint mocha in hand, I made my way to line gathering outside the entrance to be the first few people inside. The exhibition is about how the character of Sherlock became, the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle life (he was one of many who contribute to the beginnings of forensic science), and taking the visitor on a hunt for clues to solve a mystery using the same basic techniques as Sherlock would use during the Victorian times.

At the beginning of the exhibition you are given a small detective notebook with pages for activities within the exhibit to solve a crime. Each part of the exhibit has the background on how the field of forensic started, how those techniques are still in use today and the background knowledge on some of the clues you will encounter while solving the crime. As you walk through the exhibition you are deducting clues and facts in order to figure out what happened at the scene of a crime.

Towards the end of the exhibition there is a section devoted to various shows and movies spun out of the books known to many. One thing I did learn from this section is the phrase “elementary” was never a line uttered by Sherlock or Watson in any of the books written by Conan Doyle. It was added as an effect for a movie back in 1937.

Horseless buggy

At times I was a little confused on how you are supposed to go about collecting the clues. At one point I had a hard time finding one of articles in 221b Baker Street home of Sherlock Holmes. I had to ask a volunteer for help. It ended up being one of those ah ha moments that should have happened sooner (palm to forehead). One thing I thought was missing was how forensic scientist today use Sherlock Holmes’ techniques to solve crimes. Oh well the scientist in me is always trying to get more young kids interested in sciences (especially young girls).

Overall the exhibition is worth exploring especially if a fan of Sherlock Holmes and you want to put those amateur sleuthing skills to good use. I enjoyed learning about how forensic science came about in Victorian London England, and knowing more about a great-great grandfather who was a London “bobby” on the streets of London around the same time as Jack the Ripper was roaming around.

…. as for whodunit, you will have come see for yourself for the answer.

More Information:
Pacific Science Center Pacific Science Center Exhibit runs until January 8, 2017.

Never theorize before you have data. Invariably you end up twisting fact to suit…:

Pushing Forward To Curing Cancer


This past week has given nothing but sad news on the cancer front. All week there was not one day we did not hear another famous person has died from cancer. This is just a small sliver of the pie of how many people around the world died of cancer this week. Cancer touches every corner of society, and no one is fully immune to the effects it has.

As a research associate in cancer research there isn’t a day go by that I do not hear another statistic about the rate of cancer deaths and survivors. Cancer is complex. Complex as the very person it has affected. Cancer is self against self. It is the bully on the playground that doesn’t just take lunch money, it takes a life. A self made parasite to which every researcher, doctor, nurse, family and society is fighting everyday. Each type of cancer has a different way of bullying, and that is the reason why in research we are still pushing forward towards the ultimate goal: Cure Cancer.

This process takes time, and time is the essence in a person’s life. It may seem to the world we are going at this too slowly, but the truth is we are making strides towards this goal everyday. In the past few years more and more people are surviving cancer then dying of it (may not seem like it this past week). More people are becoming aware of how to prevent certain types of cancers, and more being diagnosed in the early stages where treatment is the most effective.

One day not so far off cancer will be cured. When this day comes there will be many tears of joy shed. Until then I will keep pushing forward towards the goal to curing cancer.

Blue Lab Coat Stories: Blood Bath! When 27 Blood Samples Are Processed In One Day!

Boss said there maybe days like this. Days where your whole day is devoted to taking people’s blood and extract all the good stuff out of it for monitoring patient’s progress through cancer treatment. Oh the fun of having twenty-seven total blood samples come in, and processing them all in eight hours. It’s a job for Super Lab Personnel! But sadly there is no Super Lab People, just us normal peeps asking how in the world can there be so much blood coming in today? This is not the norm because twenty-seven bloods is how much I receive over two and a half days of work.

So let me put this in perspective, twenty-seven total blood samples. Twenty two are a full 100ml of blood each ( 10, 9.5ml tubes per a set on average). Twenty two bloods equals 2,200ml of blood  (roughly 2.2 liters) of blood total! Then we had seven 10ml tubes of blood. seven bloods equals 700ml of blood for serum processing. Combined that all together and you get 2,900ml of blood (2.9 liters of blood) total! Is your head spinning yet? So the question is how much blood does the human body have? Hmmm…. lets find out! On average the human body has 5-6 liters of blood, give or take depending on size of body. Now let me make it very clear, 2.9 liters did not come from one person! It all came from  twenty-seven different subjects. By the end of the processing of all this blood, the amount of good stuff is smaller in volume. On average, from one 100ml blood sample, we can get about 4-25 tubes of 1ml each. For the 10ml we get about 3.2ml of blood serum total. By the end of the processing all the heavy dense red blood cells and other non immune cells in the blood are taken out of the sample. Still it is a lot of volume to process.

Now I’m not complaining, but I’m very tired for spending eight hours today processing blood and the paper work involved in this whole process. The life of a cancer lab technologist. At least this is not the norm, and hopefully all will be normal tomorrow.

Blue Lab Coat Stories: Adventures of a Lab Technologist

I should have titled my blog that! Oh well, the title now comes from another blog I did off of Blogspot (which I totally killed after something went wrong in my life. Who needs the bad memories). I am very lucky to be working in a lab where there is really never a dull day (even on Saturdays), so why complain? Think about it for a moment, would science really be boring? I mean if you think that go ahead, but then you are probable sleeping through science class. Now I decided I would let you in on what happens most days.


I take the bus to work every day since trying to find a parking spot (with no meter) in South Lake Union is non-existent (see post : 2 Parking Tickets + Patrol Car = Ride The Bus). This commute is usually with a lot of people who work along Eastlake in the life sciences companies, U of Washington Medical Center and Amazon. The morning commute is not really as bad as the one going home, but I like how I can get to work without the hassle of sitting in Seattle famous traffic.

I start at 8:00 am every morning with a nice cup of English Breakfast tea in my hand, and whatever I thought would be good for breakfast that particular morning (have no shame when its cold pizza or a Cliff bar). I make my lab rounds as in housekeeping, checking temperatures on incubators, refrigerators, freezers and nitrogen tanks to make sure nothing is a missed over night. Start setting up my lab bench and hood for what I am going to be doing that particular day.

Looks like FedEx arrived!
Looks like FedEx arrived!

Around 9:30-10:30 am FedEx shows up with our blood samples from our clinical trial sites from across the country. This involves un packing all the boxes containing blood tubes of subjects in our prostate cancer therapy drug trials. There are days where I am drowning in blood! Those days are called blood bath days because so much of the samples are 100ml of blood each.

The next two and half hours is processing all the clinical trial samples and separating the cells in the cancer subject’s blood into viable immune cells we need to do our research on and collecting viable data for our drug product. This entails me pooling 6-9 tubes 9ml of blood together from each subject and separate the red blood cells from the white blood cells along with other immune cells present. After successful separation of cells, I aliquot (dividing) certain amount of cells to freeze in liquid nitrogen tanks for future experiments.


Lunch! Yes Lunch!


For the rest of my work day I am either running experiments on the cells to gather clinical data on each subject for our trials or crunching the data generated by theses experiments. Some days I have to assemble clinical kits for our many sites that send in blood samples of patients in our clinical trials.

Today was running our E SPOT assay plates into a plate reader to see how many immune spots were visible from one of our subjects. How this works is plating a small 96 well plate with an antigen that reacts with the cancer subject’s antibodies they have acquired from our company’s drug treatment. Depending on the subject’s success with our treatment, most of the wells in the plate should have spots florescence back to show a reaction. The day before I had plated all of the subject’s immune cells from all the time points the subject had gone into through and now needed to see how successful the subject’s treatment was. After running through the machine, the computer shows a picture of each well and the spots on the screen. With this screen shot, I can count how many spots there are present to see how much of a reaction the subject’s immune system mounted on a tumor antigen. The treatment was a success.

Around 4:00pm I head home for the day. Going back on the bus during commute time can result into getting up close and personal with some people. Most days I don’t even get a seat until a few stops before my stop. So my day ends like everyone else in Seattle with a commute out of the city. week 9_edited-1

Ok so it may not seems glamorous, but this is what I do everyday.