Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Profile of a Mad Scientist: Ulixis

The Mad Scientists of Etsy present the second the Mad Scientist Profile. Who are these people who both love science and love to create? What does science mean to them? How do they make the things they do? Well, we're going to tell you!

Today, Cretur Fetur interviews Ulixis, followed by the 'Lightening Round'!

Cretur Fetur: You have three successful, often-updated shops, AND are pursuing a Master's in Medical Science. How do you balance it all?

Ulixis: Well, honestly, I don't think I do. Heh… or at least not all of the time (take my neglected sewing shop for example). All I do is try to make a little time for everything each day. I always set aside at least an hour at night to blog & craft, but during the day I'm at work. When I do sit down for a photoshoot, I take pictures of a lot of items all at once - that way I have a bunch of photos & can list new pieces regularly. But most of all, I don’t let it stress me out. I just keep a to-do list in my agenda & make sure I finish everything that NEEDS to be done. Everything else can be worked on slowly, whenever I have time.

Cretur Fetur: How does your affinity for science affect/influence the subjects in your art?

Ulixis: I often gravitate towards themes reflected in nature. I have a huge stash of beads in the shape of flowers, melons, leaves, waves, even beehives. Likewise, floral & foliage patterns on fabric & paper are my favourite. When it comes to making ACEOs & original collages, I’m inspired by nature just as much as mythology, another interest of mine. The MSOE challenges are another way I like to explore merging science & art.

Cretur Fetur: How does your scientific background affect your craft technique?

Ulixis: Attention to detail is an important skill I refined during my undergrad (it’s on my résumé heheh). I find this very useful in beading, wirework, sewing, collages AND notebook making. But I also learned how to improvise & work out solutions to problems – so when I “mess up” I don’t worry about it. I just turn it around & try to see how to improve on the situation. Oddly, dissection is a scientific technique that I’ve applied to paper work. I recently picked up a good, sharp knife for paper cutting, having refined my technique beforehand with a scalpel. But I still turn back to my scissors often since I also use those (in miniature) in dissection. I try to remind myself to rip the paper too – sometimes this is the best way to remove unwanted tissue.

Cretur Fetur: What do you plan to do with your degree?

Ulixis: Oh man, everyone always asks this one. I'm really still not sure at this point, but I'm aiming for professor right now. Still, you never know where your path may take you. Whatever the case, my next step is PhD - I just have to decide on a question.

Cretur Fetur: Tell me a little about your research. What is it you do in the lab on a typical day?

Ulixis: For my Master's research, I'm looking into the link between obesity and asthma. Many obese individuals develop asthma & I'm trying to see if there's a cellular basis for this. So in the lab I work with airway muscle and fat cells - I grow both of these in flasks & use the cells in my experiments. Picture me in a lab coat with gloves on working in a biological safety cabinet (basically a sterile chamber - you have to reach over a vent to work inside, a window covering the front upper half - the vent shoots air upward, keeping the sterile environment inside).

There are 3 different experiments that I run - ones looking at muscle growth, muscle migration & muscle contractility. Right now, I'm having difficulties with the growth experiments... I can't get the cells to grow in the culture plates before I start the experiment. Not sure why... yet. I've found that the fat serum (basically anything the fat cells are producing) increases migration of the muscle cells. To test contractility, I dissect muscle strips from bovine trachea & hang these in small baths. The fat serum seems to relax the muscle contraction.

Besides working on my Master's work, I also have class on Thursdays (a smooth muscle course) & TA a pharmacology lab course on Wednesdays (well, I do from Sept - Jan). For TAing, I teach 3rd year undergraduate students a radioligand binding experiment. Basically, we use a radioactive compound that binds to a certain receptor in prepared membranes - we then test how other compounds can remove the radioactive one from the receptor (by measuring the change in radioactivity in the membranes).

Lightning Round

QuestionCretur FeturUlixis
Which do you prefer: Astronomy or astrology?AstronomyAstronomy
Over land, by sea or by air?By airOver land
Acute or obtuse?AcuteObtuse
Qualitative or quantitative?QualitativeQuantitative
Big picture or tiny detail?Hmm, this is a tough one. It depends.. but I'll go for details.Tiny detail
Name your favourite:
Dábale arroz a la zorra el abad.Kayak
Prime number37
Animal?Spotted hyenaZebra
Plant?Cape sundewMaple tree
Scientific technique?ObservationFluorescence

Ulixis has two other shops: Paper Ulixis and Sew Ulixis. Check out her blog, photo stream, follow ulixis on twitter and check out her website here.

All images curtesy of Ulixis, Paper Ulixis, Sew Ulixis or Ulixis Crafts.


Amanda said...

Thanks CreturFetur for the interview - it was a lot of fun!! Thank you also to minouette for putting the posts together - they both look great!

minouette said...

Thank you Amanda!
I look forward to learning about the rest of the team too.

Bijoutery said...

Awesome interviews - fun to read!

Lety R-Z said...

Thanks for participating with me, Ulixis! This was a lot of fun and they turned out really well. Great image choices too, minouette! :)


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