Monday, February 23, 2009

Reading Week and the Letter

Please forgive the absence of updates over the past weeks, things got busy and then reading came. Speaking of reading week, I thought it was odd that Company-X decided it would be a good idea to revoke my right to leave the country. Thats correct, I received an email a few days before reading week informing me that " an employee of [Company-X] international travel is prohibited unless done so with an approved chaperone present at all times..." I dont know about you but i find that a bit odd.

Returning to the lab today I found the doors completely locked, I actually had to find my advisor to enter the room as I could not unlock them myself. On my desk I was left a note listing my weeks advancements which were to be made. 

I need:
Finalized Materials order
Finalized Chemicals order
and a Lab schematic and timeline

Im still working on my research paper which should be finished tonight or early tomorrow morning (with luck and hard work). 

Also, on a side note, I'm getting weird inquiries from other professors. No one really paid any mind to me until recently, now I am being stopped in the hallways and question about how my research is progressing and when they can see my proposal and defense etc.. Its getting a bit creepy, and the looks on their faces while talking to me is always the best part. They always look slightly scared or nervous. Its great frankly, but I'm also getting nervous, I kinda just want this to take off and then end. 
With a good ending, the more TV and movies I watch the more I believe that as soon as I finish this work I'm going to be killed.. 
Its silly I know, but i cant help it. 
I'm only watching comedies now though.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Its just sitting there, as if that happens everyday...

I was called into my advisors office this afternoon, rather hurriedly I might add, to find a half copy of my proposal sitting on his desk. I'm sure you're wondering 'What exactly is a half-copy?' well it is basically the last 12 or so pages of my paper. The pages that outline what I need in order to conduct these experiments and the protocols in which I must follow. This is the exact half-copy that I gave the environmental lab technician about 3 hours prior to this 'meeting'. 

My advisors face was beet red, and sweaty. Eyes darting between me and the door he asked me not to sit but to lean over his desk as he said "You can't just give this to anyone! What do you think non-disclosure means..." in the kind of airy whisper that you know was supposed to be a yell before it was suppressed into something much more controlled. 
I was shocked, and mumbled something about being sorry, that I needed some help with something or other. Grabbing the sheets and forcing them through the shredder he turned back to me and said, 
"Do not do anything like that again okay [insert name here]?"
I shook my head to agree as he sat down in his chair, as if this where a James Bond film he leaned forward and said,
"When you get back to your lab you will find something waiting, you need to keep it in a safe place for now, as it will be very important in the future."
"Umm, okay" I forced out (what else can you say to something like that?)

Upon returning to my lab I found this waiting in the corner:
Its locked with a combination, which I was not given. I don't really like the looks of it sitting in my laboratory hindering my daily process. 
I have no idea what I would need that fits into a brief case.... I really wish it had not appeared.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Coming

In coming weeks Company-X will be 'checking-in' with my advisor on the condition of my laboratory. Currently its almost non-existent. The reason for this is that upon being funded one of the requests is that my lab be placed in a new location thus giving only me access to it. I can no longer use shared spaces, or permit anyone access to my work if they are not on a special list generated by the Company. This being the case I need to rebuild the room, and get all new equipment to populate it with. It could take a few weeks, and I still need to place a materials order for all my new glassware. 

Also, I have been given a list of plants they want cultured, and I should point out that these plants are all edible, with the exception of one. 
A very common variety of Tree.
I haven't been told why these are the chosen plants, and scientifically its a leap to use them in these experiments but it was approved all the way down the line and I can't see any reason to NOT use them. 

I will get back to you on these plants chosen, my thoughts thus far probably shouldn't be placed here since I really don't want to jump to radical conclusions based on edible plant choices.  

But really, testing the effects of highly toxic nanoparticles on edible plants and trees, you can see why I may be a bit concerned with the lack of research they have had published, can't you ?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Has Finally Happened!

It has finally happened. If you know me at all you will know that I have been waiting for something like this to happen for a very long time. I had a meeting yesterday with my graduate adviser and he shared the good news with me.
I am completely being funded!

I did not get to meet with the company funding me however, they read my proposal and decided to pay for everything I need. With a catch however. I haven't been told exactly what I need to do differently in my research but I have been told that this company has been 'buying' researchers around the globe for a few years now. They have never actually published any of the work they have been doing but they have been spending a lot of money researching this area.

For those of you who do not know me, or exactly what I do I will introduce myself.

I am earning my Masters of Applied Science degree [M.A.Sc.] in Environmental Engineering, specializing in The Environmental Interactions of Carbon Nanotubes. In short its Nano-ecotoxicology project at a Canadian University.
I don't think I should use my real name as I did sign a non-disclosure agreement with Company-X. This should keep me anonymous enough so that I can share some things that few are privy to.

Currently I can tell you all about my research thus far. To date I have been working in the Environmental Engineering department in conjunction with a few folks in Biology and Biochemistry. I have devised a series of experiments using plant cell suspension, and hydroponics that would, if successful all one to see the effects of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) on individual plant cells and how these SWCNTs effect growth if absorbed by plant roots.

This is a big issue in upcoming years as these little guys make there way into industry and commercial products. I want to know what happens when they make there way into our food, and maybe even our bodies.
Current studies relating to direct CNT inhalation, or ingestion, or even dermal absorption suggest, well...a slow cancerous death basically.

I can see why Company X is interested in this research, and why they would pay so much for it, but I cannot see why they wouldn't make any of there findings known to the public. You'd think something this dangerous should become common knowledge! Its like the effects of smoking, only 500x faster in occurance, on dose-dependent basis. If this gets into our plants and food and water supply, as I am studying, who knows what will happen to the world.

Its almost a little bit scary.