Ever since I got to Ithaca at the Boyce Thompson Institute, I’ve had to learn how to program in Perl, a  less elegant version of my weapon of choice, Python.

An underscore? Next, you’ll be telling me to use goto and watch the world burn.

My computer-esque tasks have included debugging a script that is used in genome analysis and moving parameters from bwa-align to bowtie2. It’s very tedious and mind-numbing to sift through all the scripts that I’ve been provided. I simply cannot absorb all the information necessary. This past week was especially brutal, given that it was the first week of Ramadan and, therefore, I’ve been running on empty. No, literally, running on empty. But I don’t want to be a drama-queen about fasting. This happens every year. Though my productivity has dropped from ~40 hours/week to ~30 hours this past week, it’s worth mentioning that I have been able to concentrate on certain tasks more, even if it means working on them for a smaller number of hours.

Anyways, about the research, identifying the specific exonic regions of the tomato genome requires novel ways of sequencing, namely, using multi-exonic sites. (This article that I linked to is not part of our research, but, rather for reference about the exotic sites of RNA).

Where do the introns go in the winter?

But my work isn’t tedious because it’s on a computer, nor because I have to learn a lot of different protocols and techniques. My work is tedious because it involves a lot of careful, deliberate button-pressing in editing and running software until we can get our program to do what the thing to do what we wanted it to do in the first place. I crave something more analytical, more innovative, but it makes sense that you have to start somewhere with beta testing.

Some things on my bucket list for the summer:
-Begin studying mathematics to prepare for physics next year. (My math skills have deteriorated since I haven’t taken a math class since junior year of high school.)
-Begin studying for the MCAT.
-Grind my nose to the concrete in research.
-My conscience: “That’s it. no more commitments!” Me: “But…but, I want to write a novel!” My conscience: “No, you need to focus.”

Despite my lofty academic goals, I’ve already begun to struggle in my classes. This past semester, my GPA dropped to a 3.6, after a stellar 3.9 during my first semester. There were a few things going on this past semester that were out of my control and definitely caused unnecessarily stress and a few other things here and there that I really made decisions about, but, ultimately, I just want to focus on improving and getting better. For one thing, I had to miss a biology test when I was in the hospital due to breathing problems and chest pain. My professor wouldn’t let me retake it, despite the policy of his syllabus. I spoke to an ombudsman, and he told me that, though he believes I should be able to retake it, there was nothing I could do to fix it. It was adding insult to injury, and my biology grade dropped from an A/A- to a B+.

Goals for the fall semester:
-Begin the student organization (that I can’t talk more about right now)
-Begin the Medical Ethics Circle as part of MAPS
-Focus on a few classes, and get more work done
-“Re”,”search”, hippie, hippie to the hip hip hop you don’t stop!

Let the world know that Hussain Ather will rise to his true academic potential.

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