Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dissertation? CHECK!

Well I took a month absence from the blogging world...probably because I took a month absence from a lot of things in my life as I prepared to DEFEND MY DISSERTATION!

June 27, 2013
12:55 pm, all ready to go:

so glad Abby snapped this picture to document this happy day!

Guess what, I PASSED!! I want to remember the wonderful people who came and supported me by listening to me drone on about membrane biophysics. Annie, Abby, Ryan, and Ivan represented the family, and Dad, Mom, the Bosters, and Josh were there in spirit!! (Russia and Texas are a little too far away for a day trip and Josh had to work). My roommates Steph and Marissa came and saw a whole new side of their roommate haha. I had friends from my program (Shalene, Mikayla, and Julie), my ward (Bro. Cope, Patty, Shawney, and Mary), my committee (Dr. Bell, Dr. Judd, Dr. Stark, Dr. Burnett, and Dr. Bridgewater), and supporters from the department (Connie, Dr. Woodbuy, Dr. Thomson, Dr. Kooyman, and Dr. Sudweeks). After my presentation, they dismissed everyone except my committee to grill me. It was actually just a great experience to feel like an equal with my committee as I defended my research. They excused me from the room while they deliberated... then invited me back in to congratulate me, shake my hand/hug me, and sign the paperwork. BEST. FEELING. EVER. 

I have now turned in the final copy of my written dissertation. :) I have decided not to stress about my job search too much today and just enjoy the feeling of accomplishment! Today I wrote the Acknowledgements section of my dissertation and got nostalgic thinking of my time here. I realized most of the people I mention probably won't see the hard copy, so I thought I'd share it here so they know I love them!!

First, I am so grateful to my family and friends for supporting me and cheering me on throughout my educational career. My parents especially are my biggest fans. I would like to thank them for believing that I could do anything and always encouraging me to develop my talents to the greatest degree possible without ever making me feel pressured to do anything. I loved it when they read my papers and acted impressed, even if they didn’t completely understand them.
I don’t know if I have the words to express my gratitude to my mentor, John Bell. I am so glad I took my freshman biology class from him at age 18 and that he took a chance and let me into his lab even though it was full. Since then, he has taught me how to think, how to write, and how to teach. I will miss our brainstorming sessions, writing parties, team-teaching, talks about life, and inside jokes. He and his wife, Rhonda, are like family to me, and I have loved spending time in their home.
I would like to thank my amazing graduate committee, Allan Judd, Michael Stark, Sandra Burnett, and Laura Bridgewater, for investing their time into helping me develop as a scientist. Dr. Judd especially has been so helpful with both my coursework and research and has become a dear friend. I will miss his advice and teasing.
I am also grateful for the many people that have worked with me in the lab for the past 7 years. I can’t mention them all by name, but they truly were my second family during my time at BYU. I am grateful for Anne Heiner and Rachel Bailey for mentoring me as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, so many lab members contributed to my dissertation: Hannabeth Franchino, Lauryl Campbell, Mike Streeter, Ashley Warcup, Katalyn Pickett, Celestine Yeung, Kelly Brewer, Lynn Anderson, Stephanie Melchor, Mike Murri, Eric Moss, and Amy Hamaker. In particular, Jen Nelson has been both a cherished friend and an invaluable collaborator. Our conversations about science and life will always be some of my fondest memories in the lab.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at the University of California, Irvine for allowing us to use their two-photon microscope. I appreciate the assistance of Dan Reschke, Trevor Washburn, Ross Ahrendes, and Steve Barben with confocal microscopy and flow cytometry experiments. I would like to thank Connie Provost for doing so much behind the scenes that helped me finish this dissertation. I am also grateful for the funding provided by John Bell (NIH Grant GM073997), the PDBio Department, and the BYU Cancer Research Center.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

oh the places I'll go...

An excerpt from one of my FAVORITE books that speaks to me right now...

"You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing."

Lately I feel a little like I'm in The Waiting Place...waiting around for a yes or a no from all my job applications. Still waiting for answers about teaching positions in Kazakhstan and upstate New York...
(from my visit to the Sacred Grove...amazing)

Meanwhile I fill out more and more applications. I have a skype interview on Friday for a postdoc position at Harvard! Cross your fingers for me!!

I've never been one that enjoys The Waiting Place. Whether it be a strength or a weakness, I like to ACT, to feel like I am moving forward. This time around it's rough because I don't know exactly what I am moving forward TO. I know I will likely be moving far away, but who knows where? I know I will defend my dissertation in June and graduate in August, but beyond that, it's dark. As a speaker in sacrament meeting put it a few weeks ago, I am in the "Holy Place of Uncertainty." Will I find the bright places where boom bands are playing? Or will I grind on for miles across weirdish wild space? Will the streets be marked? Will the windows be lighted? Should I turn left or right?

As much as this time is uncertain, it is also holy and sweet. It is a time to trust the Lord and have the faith that if I do all I can, He will open doors for me. Recently some of my favorite verses of the Book of Mormon are 2 Nephi 4:33-35. Nephi's prayer to the Lord resonates with me:

"Wilt thou make my path straight before me!...O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever...Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen."

My path is clear because I will trust in the Lord forever.

In the meantime, I plan on having the best summer! I look forward to spending time with family that are close by. I may not be so close in a few months so I need to eat them up!!

Also on the list: partying it up with Steph! She was the angel I needed after the mission. We have lived together for 2 1/2 years and plan on ending this era with a bang!

Secret confession...I've already teared a couple times thinking of leaving my family, roommates, ward friends, lab friends, and high school friends that are still around. So for now I'm not thinking about it!!


Monday, April 15, 2013

...and then my phone fell in the toilet...

Once upon a time I was at a Relief Society activity. As we were all eating cinnamon rolls at the end, I took a little trip to the ladies room. After entering my stall, I realized my phone was in my back pocket (where it often resides). I removed it and placed it on the lid of the trash can on the side of the wall, which was slightly sloped. Luckily my phone has a rubber case on it, so even with the slightly sloped surface, my phone was secure...right? Next thing I know, I heard the familiar sound of my phone I hear a *plop!* as my phone falls into the toilet!! The vibrations caused the phone to slide from its secure location, down the sloped lid, a perfect trajectory to the water below. As I look down, I see my sister Annie's face lighting up the screen as the phone continues ringing and descending to the bottom of the toilet bowl. Good times friends, good times. Good still works!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

it has begun...

Dissertation writing.

I am 26 pages in and secretly enjoying it.


Also...Snow College invited me to interview next week! Ephraim here I come. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows!

This week I moved 5 jobs from the "to apply" column to the "applied" column! I'm feeling pretty productive. I have applied to various jobs in...

*New York

Too bad it's not like the mission where someone chooses for me. :) It'd be nice to just open an envelope and know it's right. Here comes the months of decision! I'm excited for life's next adventure!!! In the meantime...back to analyzing my data...and writing a dissertation...


I flew straight from Seattle, Washington to the other end of the country...Washington DC to interview to be a professor at a university in Kazakhstan! I was only there for about 24 h, but I used every minute I could to see the sights. I'll be honest, I fell in love with DC and would LOVE to go back. I felt super cool getting to be an expert at the metro and going wherever I wanted to go.

The interview was a really great experience and I felt like it went well! We will see...


BYU doesn't get spring break. I went out of town for a week anyway. I roadtripped with old friends (the Murris and Cannons) back to SEATTLE!! Nothing can top a super great group of people partying it up in my favorite city. Going to Seattle always feels like going home. I didn't have time to visit a tenth of the people I would have wanted to, but I cherished the small amount of visiting I did have. It was always AWESOME to get to visit some places I'd never been to and experience more of that beautiful area. There was much laughing, driving, poem-reading, singing in the car (in perfect harmony...of course it was the Murris and Cannons!), staying up late, ferrying, watching movies, chatting, playing games, kayaking in the puget sound, visiting Pike's Place, visiting Leavenworth, taking pictures of us sleeping everywhere (random tradition that started the first day), dancing, and eating! Yay for my fake spring break and good friends!!

when Mama came to town!

I feel like my Mom's recent trip to the good ol' US of A deserves a larger shout-out on my blog than it has gotten up to this point...

Life is so much better with Mom's hugs, face-to-face (hahaha I just typed face-to-Tace by accident...only the fam will appreciate this) Mom chats, Mom's pieces of cake as big as your head, and Mom's laugh. MISS YOU MAMA!!! 

new talent!

Presenting Liz...the front flipper....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

getting a little excited!

T - 15 days until Washington DC. This girl is getting pretty excited. I just looked up how close my hotel is from everything, and I'm feeling like I have a pretty great location. 2 weeks!!!!!!

Arts & Culture

  • The Phillips Collection  0.1 km/0.1 miles
  • National Geographic Museum  1.0 km/0.6 miles
  • Washington Monument  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Smithsonian Institute  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • National Gallery of Art  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art  1.8 km/1.1 miles
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts  1.9 km/1.2 miles
  • Lincoln Memorial  2.4 km/1.5 miles
  • International Spy Museum  2.6 km/1.6 miles
  • National Museum of Natural History  2.9 km/1.8 miles
  • National Museum of African Art  3.1 km/1.9 miles
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum  3.2 km/2.0 miles
  • Arlington National Cemetery  4.8 km/3.0 miles


  • George Washington University Hospital  1.5 km/0.9 miles
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Georgetown University Hospital  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • George Washington University  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Georgetown University  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Washington National Cathedral  3.1 km/1.9 miles
  • Howard University  3.2 km/2.0 miles
  • University of the District of Columbia  3.2 km/2.0 miles
  • Washington Hospital Center  4.7 km/2.9 miles
  • American University  4.8 km/3.0 miles
  • Sibley Hospital  7.2 km/4.5 miles

Corporate Offices

  • Dupont Circle  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • The Advisory Board  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Deloitte  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Akin Gump  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Marsh Inc.  0.8 km/0.5 miles
  • McKinsey  0.8 km/0.5 miles
  • The World Bank  1.5 km/0.9 miles
  • International Monetary Fund  1.5 km/0.9 miles
  • Danaher Corporation  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Allied Capital  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Accenture  1.8 km/1.1 miles
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers  2.3 km/1.4 miles
  • Ernst & Young  2.7 km/1.7 miles
  • Fannie Mae  3.2 km/2.0 miles
  • Blackboard Inc.  3.2 km/2.0 miles
  • Carlyle Group  3.4 km/2.1 miles
  • Corporate Executive Board  3.9 km/2.4 miles

Government Offices

  • Embassy Row  0.0 km/0.0 miles
  • Portuguese Embassy  0.1 km/0.1 miles
  • Embassy of Sudan  0.1 km/0.1 miles
  • Greek Embassy  0.1 km/0.1 miles
  • Indonesian Embassy  0.1 km/0.1 miles
  • Gabon Embassy  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Embassy of Luxemburg  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Embassy of Estonia  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Dominican Republic Embassy  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Embassy of Morocco  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Togo Embassy  0.2 km/0.1 miles
  • Embassy of Cyprus  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Latvian Embassy  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Embassy of Georgia  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Armenian Embassy  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Costa Rican Embassy  0.3 km/0.2 miles
  • Egyptian Embassy  0.5 km/0.3 miles
  • Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany  0.5 km/0.3 miles
  • Haiti Embassy  0.5 km/0.3 miles
  • Embassy of South Korea  0.5 km/0.3 miles
  • Argentinean Embassy  0.5 km/0.3 miles
  • The White House  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Capitol Hill  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Bolling Air Force Base  14.5 km/9.0 miles
  • Andrews Air Force Base  24.1 km/15.0 miles

Local Attractions

  • Kennedy Center  1.6 km/1.0 miles
  • Congressional Country Club  14.6 km/9.1 miles


  • Metro Station  0.2 km/0.1 miles

Thursday, February 21, 2013

first rejection

Today I officially got my first rejection! Why didn't they want me? Because I am LDS! (They are a Baptist university and apparently want someone whose faith aligns more closely with theirs.) Haha, if I'm going to get rejected, at least it's for a reason I'm proud of right??

being productive and APPLYING

6 hours

27 potential jobs found

2 gogurts

1 cute little cup of applesauce

3 personalized cover letters

1 peanut butter sandwich

3 COMPLETED applications :)

1 tired Liz

This is the longest I've been super productive without getting distracted in a LONG time. Blog-worthy.

Did I mention I arrived in the lab at 6:50 am this morning? Miracles do happen people.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Copacabana Night!

I love my calling. For reals. I am super happy today because last night's activity was an epic success. I would say reality was even better than the vision I'd had in my head.

Copacabana Night!
*Frank Sinatra
*40's-style formal wear
*cheese and crackers
*italian sodas
*live music by three fantastically-talented singers in our ward (Frank Sinatra style)
*swing dancing
*dice and card games, bingo
*green visors
*good times :)

 (Tracy can you send me that one of me and you?)

Secretly my favorite activity I've planned so far...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Let it be known that I, Liz Gibbons, will be giving up the snooze button for Lent 2013. That's right...when I set an alarm, I vow to wake up at the time I planned rather than sleeping for 5 more cycles of 5 minutes at a time (which isn't restful anyway). Hopefully, this will give me more time in the morning for scripture study and exercise and help me prepare for Easter. So from now until March 30, I will be super responsible. I'm pretty excited about it.

Monday, February 11, 2013



*1 plane ticket from Seattle to Washington DC
*1 plane ticket from Washington DC to Salt Lake City

(The best purchases are those that will be reimbursed...let's be honest.)

Oh...did I mention I get to go to Seattle for almost a week with friends in March? And did I mention I will head straight from that excursion to DC for a 2nd interview for a position as an Assistant Professor of Biology? (When did I grow up?) Oh...and did I mention the job interview in DC is actually for a university in KAZAKHSTAN?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

more Philly

2 more highlights from Philadelphia 2013:



Monday, February 4, 2013


I am currently in Philadelphia for the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting. Translation: a bunch of scientists from all over the world gather to present their research to each other. Secret confession: I LOVE IT. This is my fifth year attending (see this post, and this one, and this one, and one more) and it's fun to see my progress since 2008. I understand a lot more, I feel more like an equal with the professionals, and I even have friends I recognize every year! I present my poster tomorrow, but I thought I'd share some pics of our sight-seeing adventure today! Dr. Bell, Alyssa, and I walked in the bitter cold (only about a half mile from our hotel) to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were drafted. It got me all fired up about US History and made me want to read some good books about it.

I've also loved staying right next to the Reading Terminal Market! There are sooo many places to eat (Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, Greek, even the Amish are here!), jewelry shops, bakeries, flower shops, and fresh produce (where the man gave us a discount because we are students...awesome). It reminds me of a mix between Pike's Place in Seattle and indoor renoks (spelling??) in Russia! LOVE IT.

Also, I've loved hanging out with Alyssa! We even got free matching t-shirts because we're cool like that.

Riding the subway to church on Sunday and discussing research ideas with Dr. Bell have also been favorites! Once again, I've realized how much I LOVE visiting big cities and how much I do not want to live in one haha. I do love visiting though. I love seeing the sights and getting a feel for the city's personality. Also, my favorite part of some of these cities back east is how you will have these BEAUTIFUL old buildings mixed in with the new ones downtown. Favorite.