Human Anatomy at Colby

Viki Lin & Annabelle Fischer JanPlan 2019 Internship talk to Bi265j Human A&P (013019)

February 7, 2019 · Comments Off on Viki Lin & Annabelle Fischer JanPlan 2019 Internship talk to Bi265j Human A&P (013019)



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What Did You Learn Today?

February 5, 2019 · Comments Off on What Did You Learn Today?

This JanPlan, I took A&P and guitar lessons. I have played piano for almost all of my life, but I always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. Even though A&P made my schedule pretty busy, I decided that I wanted to take lessons this JanPlan to give myself a break from the academic work. Twice a week I would go to Bixler after a three and a half hour lecture on the organ system of the day and my guitar teacher would start with the question: What did you learn today?

That was a pretty loaded question considering my brain was still recovering from the rapid-fire lectures on anatomy and then physiology and I was struggling to retain any of the information that I had learned that day. Then I remembered a cool fact that Dr. K mentioned in Olin 001, like how the surface area of the lungs is 35 times the surface area of the body. Or I remembered when Dr. K explained the etymology of some anatomical structure in Arey 307. My personal favorite was the background of the acetabulum, where the femur meets the pelvis and forms the hip joint. Acetabulum literally means “vinegar bowl” since the Romans used to use the acetabulum of cattle to hold their vinegar when eating.

Not only did those stories and fun facts help to liven up the at times never-ending lecture, they helped me to remember and make sense of all of the information that is packed into the month of January. I knew that I wanted to eventually go to medical school when I first came to Colby, but this class helped to reinforce that I find the human body fascinating and I want to dedicate years of my life studying it. The fun facts reminded me of how incredibly specified and complicated the human body is, and how difficult and rewarding it is to study its form and function.

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JanPlan 2019

February 3, 2019 · Comments Off on JanPlan 2019

This semester we learned a lot of material in a very short amount of time. We were introduced to the body structure and function in a modified fashion which still was a lot of information. However the speed at which we learned this material is very reflective of what medical school will be like which is in the near future for most of us in the class. Coming into the class what I knew about medical school was limited to what I looked up online and had heard from the premed advisor. So needless to say I knew next to nothing. Being exposed to a class that was designed to reflect a medical school class was an amazing opportunity and it taught me a lot about myself.

I was able to learn that I was going to need to be flexible to other learning styles if I wanted to be successful in the future. The same study strategies I had used my entire life were not going to work with the extensive amount of material thrown at me in graduate level classes. If I wanted to do well in the future I was going to need to learn to adapt and find multiple methods in order to succeed. Also I learned a lot about managing stress. Stress is an inevitable part of being a student especially in the higher levels of education. A lot is expected of you and sometimes it is hard to manage these expectations along with a healthy lifestyle. Dr. K’s style

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Jan Plan 2019

February 3, 2019 · Comments Off on Jan Plan 2019

This semester we learned a lot of material in a very short amount of time. We were introduced to the body structure and function in a modified fashion which still was a lot of information. However the speed at which we learned this material is very reflective of what medical school will be like which is in the near future for most of us in the class. Coming into the class what I knew about medical school was limited to what I looked up online and had heard from the premed advisor. So needless to say I knew next to nothing. Being exposed to a class that was designed to reflect a medical school class was an amazing opportunity and it taught me a lot about myself.

I was able to learn that I was going to need to be flexible to other learning styles if I wanted to be successful in the future. The same study strategies I had used my entire life were not going to work with the extensive amount of material thrown at me in graduate level classes. If I wanted to do well in the future I was going to need to learn to adapt and find multiple methods in order to succeed. Also I learned a lot about managing stress. Stress is an inevitable part of being a student especially in the higher levels of education. A lot is expected of you and sometimes it is hard to manage these expectations along with a healthy lifestyle. Dr. K’s planning of the class introduced me to a class where my metal state and wellbeing were taken into account. With this method I was able to find ways to manage outside of class stress as well as class related stress while also maintaining my grades. This definitely was not easy but I think I made some steps in the right direction. I will need to use these strategies in my future class and focus on finding other strategies as well if I want to reach a point where I am able to manage my stress levels and at the same time continue to do well in my classes.

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Anatomy Lessons

February 3, 2019 · Comments Off on Anatomy Lessons

As someone who plans to enter the medical field at some point in their future but has yet to decide on a specific direction, I cannot recommend this course highly enough. While one month is really only enough time to scratch the surface of human anatomy and physiology, the amount of material we covered and the value of the experience we had should not be understated. Dr. Klepach has managed to run this course in such a way that we are able to cover and retain a huge amount of information without feeling overburdened or losing interest. Activities like the BMI lab and heart dissection gave us the opportunity to engage with the material we were learning in lecture beyond simply looking at models. Presenting case studies from the New England Journal of Medicine in our grand rounds project, and touring Inland hospital while hearing about the experiences of medical proffessionals were also invaluable experiences for those of us seeking to enter the medical field. However, my recommendation of this class is not limited to only those interested in Biology. Some of the most import lessons I took away from this course were not directly related to anatomy and physiology.

From day one, dr. Klepach made it clear that in his mind success was not defined by a letter grade received at the end of the course, but rather in the ability to find a balance between work and healthy living. We were constantly reminded to manage our stress levels, exercise, maintain a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. While slightly unexpected at the beginning, it was reassuring to see a professor as interested in how our lives were going outside of academics as they were in our performance in the classroom. I know that the lesson that having a healthy lifestyle should not be sacrificed in the pursuit of academic success will stay with me throughout the rest of my education. Another lesson I know will stay with me for a long time came from our guest speaker Scott Fried. Mr. Fried’s speech contained many valuable lessons, but the one that resonated with me the most was about the importance of loving ourselves. The cornerstone of living a healthy life is being able to know that we are enough exactly as we are, regardless of academic performance, interests, or social life. In this way, anatomy and physiology offered me a valuable and enriching experience, both for my future aspirations and my personal life.

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In a month

February 3, 2019 · Comments Off on In a month

When I first started this class, I came in with no expectations. All I knew was that I was taking a biology class and that I was getting lab credit for it in a month. And as a result, I was not prepared for what the class was about to bring.

Listening to the first lecture, I was completely overwhelmed and in shock of the workload and the amount of effort I would have to put in for the class. Looking at the syllabus and the uploaded presentation slides, I was amazed that the professor expected us to know this enormous amount of information in one month. I felt like it was hopeless and I was stressed.

However, as I continued to take the class, Dr. Klepach kept putting focus and our attention to keeping a low stress level and taking care of ourselves as well as our academics. When I first heard this, I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I thought there was no way I could keep my stress low while trying to retain all this new information and stay up to my own academic standards.

A week and a few days in, I found out I was wrong.

I realized that there was need for me to be stressed and anxious all the time about my grades. I had the ability and capacity to learn and retain the required amount of information and I was doing well in the class. Dr. Klepach’s constant reminders to keep a low stress level and focus on our bodies finally made sense to me. I realized that there was no need to beat myself excessively over every quiz and every assignment and that I had the capacity to excel without being on the verge of an anxiety attack.

Through this class, I learned a valuable life lesson as well as anatomical names and physiological functions. Although dissecting a cow heart was fun and the new knowledge will come in handy, I will most be grateful about Dr. Klepach’s constant reminders. I hope that I can carry this mindset on with me into my future classes and take more of what he said about taking care about our bodies into action.


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The Meaning of Success at Heart

February 1, 2019 · Comments Off on The Meaning of Success at Heart

This course has undoubtedly enriched my knowledge of the human body, it’s so complex and so fascinating!  However, I believe the most important concept I learned is the importance of a healthy lifestyle.  It is so important that it should be used as a part of one’s measurement of overall success in one’s life.  The lifestyle log provided me with quantifiable evidence regarding my exercise habits and sleeping habits because data was recorded over the course and I could find trends, positive and negative, in my lifestyle and work to change the negative lifestyle choices.  This will help me to live a healthier lifestyle and ultimately find more overall success in life.

The most fun activity for me in this course was the dissection of fresh hearts.  I was very excited when I found out Dr. Klepach got fresh hearts for us instead of preserved ones because fresh hearts are much more soft, pliable, and colorful!  Cutting open the heart revealed the valves, papillary muscles, and chordae tendineae.  It was quite amazing to feel and see these very important cardiac structures that we had just learned about in the previous class.  I also felt better knowing the chordea tendineae are very strong and likely will not break in my heart!  This class has been a challenging JanPlan that has definitely helped me learn how to study anatomy in the future.  Despite the challenge, I had a great time in this class and would encourage anyone interested in the human body to take this course.  Thank you for a great JanPlan!



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Ruler of the Forest

February 1, 2019 · Comments Off on Ruler of the Forest

“He would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest”
The Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein

At Colby, everyone here has told me that I would be fine. Every professor and friend explained that I was smart and I was worrying about nothing. They don’t know me. Eight years ago, I could not imagine going to any college. I see it as a very low point in my life when I had the lowest grades, no common sense, and the highest naiveté possible. I was a leaf constantly blown from the wind of others. The leaf represented a symbol of my idiocy and carelessness. I was a pushover who did not care about anything in the world. This recklessness eventually crushed my leaf-like existence and taught me a lesson. Ever since that day, I try not to become what I once was, playing a tiring and constant role of a smart and happy person.

Anatomy and Physiology was a very gruesome and fascinating class. It was an interconnecting web of body systems, diseases, and infections. Since I was pre-med, I thought A&P was the perfect test to see if I was on the right path and if I had what it took. Quickly, I found out that A&P was definitely not easy. I was distraught by unsatisfied scores, anxiety, and low confidence. While I was studying for A&P, my friends would be skiing, smiling, and sleeping. Despite A&P’s fascinating material, I couldn’t help think that I made a mistake. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Because many classmates grew anxious about lab tests and weekly quizzes, I could not help but absorb their anxieties. As I grew more anxious, my heart grew heavier riddled with doubt and despair.

My once stable fortress, that I built since eight years ago, began to tumble down. What if I was not smart enough to become a doctor? How could I continue to maintain the persona of academic success? I constantly fought with my emotions trying to maintain a happy and calm demeanor. After reflecting these questions, I realized these questions were irrelevant because I remembered the answers.

I can’t be who I am not. I am definitely not the most intelligent nor the pinnacle model of academic success. But, I have a heart. I care about my family, friends, future, and, most importantly, myself. What others have in brains, I will make up with my heart. I will study harder and smarter, smile more, and live the dream of healing others. My dream was never to become a doctor, but to heal the unnecessary wounds and pain of others.

Technically, I learned a bunch of anatomy and physiology in a short amount of time. There were so many body systems were intriguing and learning about the pathology of the body was amazing. More importantly, I remembered that I was enough. The grades, tests, and comparisons to other students did not matter to me anymore. I am thankful for the support of my family and my will to thrive rather than survive my life. I am not a soldier who needs an armor of steel rather I am a scholar eager to learn. I look forward to soaking more information and build my own prosperous kingdom/destiny. It will never be easy because I am lacking in many areas, but I will always remember my roots. To me, the leaf no longer represents regret. It is a lesson to learn so I can be the best I can be. Therefore, A&P was like a leaf to me that I will cherish, and I cannot wait until my next one. I will gather all the leaves I can and look forward to more.

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What’s In Your Pocket?

February 1, 2019 · Comments Off on What’s In Your Pocket?

I first heard Scott Fried speak at a freshman wellness seminar two years ago. I remember him clearly—engaging and demanding, passionate and free. His talk was amazing. Every seat in Ostrove was filled, people were sitting on the stairs, standing in the back. But when I heard him speak just two days ago for the second time, I felt something different. There was something about sitting just three rows away from him with only fifteen other people in the room. It didn’t feel like he was putting on a show. It felt like he was talking directly to me. It felt like he had already seen my palm, before I’d even been asked to show it.

At the end of the talk when Scott asked for questions, I had one. But I wasn’t sure the correct way to phrase it. And I wasn’t sure if he would be offended. And I wasn’t sure if the question undermined the whole point of his talk. So I said nothing. I’m sitting here, still wondering, if he ever contacted the man who gave him HIV, just to let him know exactly how he had changed the course of his life forever. I drew some serious parallels to my experiences with my boyfriend from freshman to sophomore year. He had done terrible, emotionally abusive, and manipulative things to me. Things that have affected my confidence and security in relationships ever since. And while it in no way compares to the gravity of Scott’s situation, I sometimes think about picking up the phone and letting him know just how much damage he had done to me. But would it give me any satisfaction? I’m thinking maybe not.

And when Scott said that it is easy to love those who are easy to love, but it is hardest to love those who are hard to love, including yourself, I was thinking about how hard I have made it to love myself. When Scott asked us to show him who we are with our palm, I thought to myself, how do I make my palm look feeble, damaged, afraid? But I know that I am not feeble. Although the secret in my pocket is that I am afraid, I do not confuse it with the fact that I am timid. I am scared to let someone care about me again and I am scared to be vulnerable. I have someone in my life now who is incredibly supportive and caring, yet, I am so scared to let him in. But I am trying. I am working, each and every day, to believe him when he compliments me, to believe that he will follow (he does) through on plans when we make them, to believe that I did not deserve what I experienced in the past. That lack of self-respect and self-confidence is so deeply ingrained in me that it takes immense conscious effort to not shut down and shut him out.

The secret in the front pocket of my jeans, is that I am scared—scared to let myself feel and scared to let myself go. But my palm—who I am—is neither feeble nor timid. Somewhere in my mind, I know what I have to offer, what my self-worth is. Maybe one day I’ll pick up the phone and let him know all that he has done to me, and how much better off I am without him, and how I have learned to love myself again. But then again, maybe I won’t.

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Measuring success

January 31, 2019 · Comments Off on Measuring success

For the past few years I have had a mindset where I have thought the busier a person is, the more successful they are. If someone has more on their plate than I do, they’re a better person, they’re working harder, and they’re smarter. This fall, being a senior, I’ve been working to reprioritize, so that I didn’t spend my senior year feeling miserable, but “successful”. I think that being in this class with this kind of philosophy I was validated in my efforts. My parents are both doctors, many of my aunts and uncles are doctors or have careers in the medical field. I feel as if I know a lot about it, and it’s not something that I want to pursue. I’m a Biology and Environmental Science double major and I’m interested in public health and infectious diseases, specifically bacterial infections. I usually find myself in classes full of pre-med students. I am not pre-med. I find that in many times the people in my classes are riddled with anxiety that seems to be contagious and makes me feel inadequate. It makes being there a lot less fun. It’s harder to have intellectual conversations about the implications of what we learn or wider societal problems because so many people are just asking, “will this be on the final?” and I find myself wondering, “should I be more worried about the final?”

I went into this class knowing that it would be a lot of work since it was both Anatomy and Physiology in just one month. In the past, I’ve looked at my academics and thought that if I wanted to do well in a class, I was probably going to be stressed at some point. I thought that if I was more stressed out I was working harder and putting more effort in the class. On the first day of this class, Dr. K challenged us to be conscious of our stress levels throughout the semester. Before the first quiz and exam I tried to maintain a lower stress level and be comfortable with just knowing what I knew at the time. I ended up not doing as well as I wanted to on those first assessments. My instincts immediately wanted to revert back to they way I’ve thought in the past. I thought the reason I had not done as well as I had wanted to was because I wasn’t stressed enough.

Throughout the rest of the semester I tried really hard to fight that urge. As long as I was putting effort into the class and doing my best, I had no reason to stress. Getting to be at Colby and living amongst my friends and peers and leading some kind of holistic life that makes me feel fulfilled is a more important than how I do in one class. This is not to say that I didn’t care about this class and stopped trying. I just tried to shift my perspective. I tried my best to find new ways to learn the material that worked for me, and I definitely put time into learning this material. However, I tried to trust myself. At the end of the day, I knew what I knew, and that was FINE. Getting enough sleep, talking to my friends, reading for pleasure, not being so stressed I couldn’t sleep through the night, were all more important to me than staying awake for one more hour just to freak out about whether or not I knew enough of the material. I have appreciated the philosophy behind this class, and I am saddened by the fact that it’s been so rare in my Colby career.

Here are some videos of my friend Callie and I studying together that might be helpful for others IMG_2858 IMG_2856 IMG_2838

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Anatomy, Fractals, and the Emergence of the Universe

January 31, 2019 · Comments Off on Anatomy, Fractals, and the Emergence of the Universe

I started at Colby studying physics, but I’m a biologist at heart. Thanks to this course, I can now say I generally understand the inner workings of nearly every biological system of the human body. But thanks to my prior experience, I can say I understand nearly every physical system of it as well. When you study nature with such a breadth of scope, from sub-atomic particles up to social interactions, peculiar patterns precipitate. Humans are good at finding patterns when there are none, so it’s easy to dismiss them when they first manifest. But, when you see the same patterns again and again, they become difficult to ignore.

I suspect the universe is fractal in nature, with no upper or lower bound to its complexity. The human body exists at a level of complexity which highlights this notion. Our muscles and nerves form like ropes. Beginning with single cells, they bundle together as fibers glued together with connective tissue. The bundles then form glued bundles of their own, continuing to aggregate until a complete muscle or nerve is formed with all of the associated features. Each level constructs the next; each successive level not much different from the previous, yet jumping from level 1 to level 10 feels like a totally new universe. If you look at the whole picture though, peering cross-eyed through every layer at once, you start to see them as the same. The layers, just an illusion.

Halfway through this course I encountered a pattern. I suspect it’d been following me a long time, nearly a decade. Society is like a cell. A simple thought, but one with heavy implications. Society is like a lot of things though: A body, a bee hive, an ant colony, a fungus. But all of those examples I just gave, are themselves, composed of cells. You see, each level of complexity above ‘cell’: tissue, organ, organ system, just allows organisms to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and reproduce in more complicated ways. None of them are necessary for life or homeostasis. The simplest organisms are unicellular. That fact, that a single cell can maintain all necessary processes for life to flourish, made me see them as perhaps the most apt models of society imaginable. Simply start by swapping proteins for people and you’re on your way.

I won’t use this blog post as my grand thesis of a cellular society, I’m now writing an essay for that purpose. But I want to give credit to professor Klepach for approaching the material of this course with the sense of wonder and curiosity that it deserves. Paying close attention to the structural and functional hierarchies in nature can illuminate issues with the hierarchies we’ve created for ourselves. Understanding our society starts with understanding our own minds and the bodies that house them. Understanding those starts with anatomy and physiology.

~Miles Crockett

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My Experience In Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class

January 31, 2019 · Comments Off on My Experience In Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class

Going into Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class, I knew that it would be challenging but I had no idea how fast paced and difficult it would be. The first week was pretty overwhelming, as I did not do well on the first lab exam. I was stressed out by this result and was unsure of what I should do. Returning back to my dorm after receiving this grade, I questioned myself. Are you meant to be in the medical profession? Maybe this is not for you? After having these thoughts, I emailed Dr. K and met with him about ways that I could improve my study habits and not stress as much. Going into the next lab exam, I went into the lab many times to look at the different models and realized the importance of studying a little bit every day while leaving time to do fun things with friends around campus. This lifestyle worked really well for me and I saw a decline in my stress levels, even though the amount of information we were learning did not slow down. Going into the second lab exam, I was really nervous, as I felt like I needed to do much better on the second one in order to raise my grade. The second lab exam went really well, which I was pleased about, but I found myself not that concerned about the grade. Instead, I realized that I was just happy that I was not as stressed about the class and was able to live an awesome life while taking a really difficult class. The grade just seemed to be a bonus for me. It was the changes that I had made in my day to day life that really shocked me. I have felt like this class has taught me so much more than I could ever imagine. The life lessons that I have learned will stay with me forever. In addition, Scott’s talk yesterday really resonated with me, as he said “It is easy to love the people that are easy to love, but it is hard to love those that are hard to love. Those that are hard to love are the ones that we need to focus on loving.” He talked about how the person that may be hard to love is sometimes ourself. Throughout my time at Colby, I have been extremely hard on myself and have put expectations on myself that are sometimes not reachable. This part of me has changed this JanPlan, as I have learned to work hard but not put the focus on the numerical grade. Working as hard as you can is what is most important. You should never compare yourself to other people because you are an amazing individual who is capable of great things in life. Leaving A & P, I think to myself contrary thoughts of what I was thinking after getting my first lab exam back. You can do it, Callie. You are capable. Thank you Dr. K for a semester of learning about what life really is and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while learning heaps of information. These life lessons are really special and will stay with me for a really long time.

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A Brief Blog on Time

January 30, 2019 · Comments Off on A Brief Blog on Time

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
-Roger Waters

Keep reading →

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Meditation: Before the Final

January 31, 2018 · Comments Off on Meditation: Before the Final

There is difference as well as an intersection between doing well in a class and all related academic pursuits with “enlarging one’s understanding of the world” (thanks Milton Glaser). Classes don’t always give you that sense of enlargement, the sense that you have not yet reached the end of your understanding of yourself or the world. They can provide you with that sense if you let them and if you dig deeper yourself, but I often find that classes are too trivialized and reduced to grades and performance. Think about it—our full-time job is to be students. We literally have no other job but to learn, and this is often minimized and downplayed to how well you did on a test or the final grade for the class. The only thing that a test grade tells you is how well you meet the professor’s expectations, or the department’s expectations, or someone else’s expectations for that particular evaluation in that particular moment in your life, not what you actually know, understand, and wonder about in your free time. Perhaps I am biased too much towards thinking about things because that’s my major; I think and argue for a living. But I think there are kernels of truth to be gleaned, there is some sort of meaning to be created in trying to find that sense of enlargement in a class.

Despite how it may appear, a class is not really about impressing your professor, though this does not give you an excuse not to make an effort. A class is about impressing yourself. Study, read, and make an effort to do well because it fulfills you, not because there is an A at the finish line. (Arguably, this depends on your priorities. I understand you can’t always do things because they fulfill you, but at least try to make something out of the things that don’t.) Sometimes, this means that you won’t do as well as you would have wanted to, so you need to learn to fail gracefully. You gotta get creative and redefine what success means to you. I promise a class will be much better if you find a way to connect with it.

That said, classes won’t teach you everything you need to know to face the “real world” (whatever that means). There is much to learn outside of school, and this is not a slight to Colby. Classes in our college bring us to a starting point so we can make good work. Being a student is easy, smart people are a dime a dozen at an institution like ours. Beyond just smart, Colby can help us start to be excellent at whatever we do, but it’s up to us to take it from there. As Adrienne Rich said, “education is something you claim, not something you get“–education requires a strong personal effort and active initiative. You can learn a great deal from a course like this, but it is up to you to internalize it and incorporate it into your interactions with the world. Rich calls it a sense of responsibility to ourselves:

Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. It means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. […] Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions– predigested books and ideas, weekend encounters guaranteed to change your life, taking “gut” courses instead of ones you know will challenge you, bluffing at school and life instead of doing solid work, marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short, simply to avoid conflict and confrontation. […] It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be “different”; not to be continuously available to others when we need time for ourselves and our work; to be able to demand of others–parents, friends, roommates, teachers, lovers, husbands, children–that they respect our sense of purpose and our integrity as persons.

– Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education

Don’t just be a biology student, or whatever-your-major-may-be student. Be an everything and anything student, a lots of things student. Grow beyond this class. Grow beyond what you thought you were capable of. And at some point during the day, ask yourself “what matters?”

– Amanda Sagasti

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January 30, 2018 · Comments Off on

No neuron in my head knows who I am, not individually nor collectively. I cannot point at a brain structure and say “that’s who I am!” What is this “self” we speak of and where do I find it? How do I know it is not a fiction? Where does the sense of individuality emerge in this fleeting collection of cells we define as ours? What are we in this boundless, vast world?

– Amanda Sagasti

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Hello from the infinite chasm of meaninglessness that is the internet.

January 28, 2018 · Comments Off on Hello from the infinite chasm of meaninglessness that is the internet.

Hello from the infinite chasm of meaninglessness that is the internet. Our interaction is mediated through a screen connected to a complex network that acts as its own nervous system—perhaps even an extension of our own. Along these artificial synapses you will find my story. I hand it to you. Think it over. Perhaps you can give us a different story.

– Amanda Sagasti

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Transcending Impermanence, or Being Alive.

January 27, 2018 · Comments Off on Transcending Impermanence, or Being Alive.

“Drawing on chalkboards is too much work to be erased,” I overheard one of the bio professors say.

Yes. I mean, you’re not wrong.

But this is joining the toughest of analytical sciences with an ephemeral art form. Both involve inspiration, discovery, tedious hours learning and practicing, but also a refuge from hostility, and ultimately, redemption. Physicist Lisa Randall said it best: both science and art “promise, in their different ways, to help transcend the narrow confines of individual experience and allow us to enter into—and comprehend—the realm of the sublime.”

The fleeting reality that someone is gonna come and sweep all of this away, that the janitors will come in when it’s too late and too early and spray the chalkboards clean before anyone gets here, is not something to condemn, but rather something to embrace and celebrate. The lack of stability of the medium is not meant for longevity, but for impermanence. My drawings may not last long (a few weeks at best, like some of the cells in our bodies), but I find that drawing them is illuminating and inspiring. I’m making something out of nothing, and as always, someone said it better than me:

            “I suddenly realized that you could create life — that you could create life with a pencil and a brown paper bag — and it was truly a miracle in my recollection. Although people are always telling me that memory is just a device to justify your present, it was like I received the stigmata and I suddenly realized that you could spend your life inventing life. And I never stopped since — at five, my course was set. I never deviated, I never stopped aspiring or working in a way that provided the opportunity to make things that, if you did right, moved people.”

— Milton Glaser

For a few hours, I draw things and forget about my own struggles, and if I do my drawings well, they could help other people forget about theirs. There is some sort of creative, temporal glory in drawing on blackboards, kind of like an inside joke. If you get to see my drawings, I hope they make you feel something before they’re gone.


– Amanda Sagasti

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January 27, 2018 · Comments Off on Pilot

A lot of my work is done quietly, in a coffee shop, with lots of books, thinking… That’s kind of a given for philosophy majors. Do I only think? No, sometimes I doodle:

Over this month I contemplated somewhat seriously dropping out and raising sheep in New Zealand. Dissecting pig hearts and the functions of hemoglobin are processes a little outside my comfort zone–I’m not a biology or chemistry major, I’m not premed… I’m a philosophy major writing a thesis on time.

I knew this course would be incredibly challenging when I signed up for it, not only because of the subject but because of the long hours that included both lecture and lab, one after the other, and all the work outside of class I needed to keep up. This is NOT an easy JanPlan, this is in fact a very challenging class that tested way more than my academic abilities. At times I found the subject hostile, like the cells inside my body were laughing at myself and my inability to comprehend my own inner workings. As if my brain were somehow smarter than me and had a sort of biological awareness of what it’s doing while my conscious self was completely in the dark. Most of the time we aren’t aware of what we’re doing anyways.

Eventually I made peace with the fact that drawing was the best way I related to anatomy, and I dedicated a lot of time to it. I took comfort in the words of the great designer Milton Glaser: “the great benefit of drawing … is that when you look at something, you see it for the first time. And you can spend your life without ever seeing anything.” So I drew on pretty much any surface, from chalkboards to notebooks to the little placards they have in Dana announcing new courses. However, I was very conscious that drawing by no means was an excuse not to know what was happening. In fact, I felt even more pressure to understand what was happening precisely because I was taking the time and care to render an image as close to the actual thing as possible. And I understood, eventually. Maybe not everything, but at least some parts of it.

– Amanda Sagasti

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Grand Rounds: Cancer and Mental Illness

February 1, 2017 · Comments Off on Grand Rounds: Cancer and Mental Illness

Grand Rounds Presentation from Amy Bruce, Sandra Ntare, Charlee Manigat

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Lauren Shirley: My Experience in BI265j

February 24, 2015 · Comments Off on Lauren Shirley: My Experience in BI265j


Anatomy and physiology form the cornerstone of medicine. Without A&P, medicine as a field would fail to exist. Thus, as a premed student, I saw it as my duty to take A&P to give myself a solid background for my other medical interests and the internships I hope to pursue. After working in a cadaver lab for several summers where I completed dissections of many different joints, I imagined that I had a fairly solid background in anatomy. Additionally, my experience as an EMT and the basic anatomy and bodily processes I had learned as part of my training should make this easy. Right?? Boy was I wrong.


The musculoskeletal anatomy that I had mastered in my lab before was approximately two hours of lecture in a month-long class. My imagination had certainly underestimated the breadth of the class and the many different topics that would be covered. While my previous experiences definitely helped me a little, they gave me nowhere near the advantage I imagined.


I was most challenged by the pace of the class. As we conquered a new body system each day, in both its anatomy and its physiology, there was little time to absorb the details of each system. Rather, the class served as an overview of many main components and processes within the body. We covered everything from the skeletal framework of the body to the minute electrical conduction pathways in the heart, and none of it really got half the time it deserved. However, this class did give me a new appreciation of the miracle of the human body and its myriad evolutionary advantages. I cannot even comprehend the different evolutionary events that would have had to occur for it to reach its current state.


Organs we take for granted, such as the eye or ear, give us a plethora of information about the world around us. While I knew the basic function and makeup of these organs before the class, I had no idea about their underlying intricacies. I was fascinated by the different components that makeup our vision. While the rods in our eyes give us “night vision,” it lacks the color and “high definition” quality that cones provide. While these components appear in different densities in different places on the retina, the brain is able to take in all of the information, which synapses through the optical nerve to create a coherent image of our surroundings. It was information such as this that I learned in the class which gave me a new appreciation for the human body and its physiology.


While this class definitely pushed me to learn a maximum of information in a minimum of time, I really ended up enjoying the Anatomy and Physiology class and would highly recommend it to any other students who are considering taking it for Jan Plan in the future. However, my advice to these students would be this: you get out of the class what you put in to it. Your interest and effort is key to your success in and enjoyment of the class.



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