Monday, August 21, 2017

Q18: What do you know about bats? (yes, bats!)

Our laboratory animals can certainly be unusual, but perhaps one of the strangest animals we look after are the various species of bats.   Today's questions are on bats in the laboratory...

1. Classification:
  • Which order (from the Greek 'hand' and 'wing' do bats belong to? _________  
  • There are over 1300 known species of bats. Big Brown Bats and Little Brown Bats are common in the United States. What is the genus and species of big and little brown bats? 
  • The big and little brown bats are part of the bat family___________________
2.  Bats in North America are a reservoir species for rabies, and have surpassed dogs as the major source of human rabies cases in North America.  
  • Rabies virus belongs to the family_________ and genus ____________________
  • All personnel working with bats or bat tissues should be vaccinated against rabies. Initial rabies vaccination consists of single/multiple (pick one) doses.
  • True or false?  Following potential exposure, vaccinated individuals do not need post exposure prophylaxis.
  • True or false? Post exposure prophylaxis may consist of more than one vaccine dose and immune globulin
  • True or false?  The incubation period for rabies in bats may exceed 13 weeks                            
3. Biology
  • Although some species of bats may suck blood, eat fish or small mammals, or eat nectar or pollen, the vast majority of bat species feed on __________
  • Bats are nocturnal/diurnal/crepuscular and sleep in ________ 
  • True/false  They live many times longer than other mammals of the same size
  • The gestation period is ___________ and newborn bats are precocious/altricial
  • True/false  Some bats hibernate and migrate seasonally 

4. Bats use a unique method to locate their prey_____________  This, together with study in the wild for evidence of ___________constitute 2 major areas of research using bats.

5. Over 200 viruses have been detected in bats and there is some evidence that some bats can remain asymptomatic while harboring viruses that can infect humans.  In  addition to rabies virus, bats are increasingly being linked with emerging human diseases.  
  • True/false  In addition to rabies, bats are suspected to have acted as reservoirs, either directly, via fomites/vectors (such as partially eaten fruit), or via intermediate hosts such as carnivores (e.g. ferrets, raccoon dogs) perissodactyls (e.g. horses) or artiodactyls (e.g. pigs and camels)  for the following diseases:
    • Rabies-related viruses such as Australian bat lyssavirus
    • Paramyxoviruses such as Hendra virus and Nipah virus
    • Coronaviruses such as SARS/MERS
    • Filoviruses such as Ebola virus and Marburg virus
    • Alphaviruses such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus 
6. True/false. Wild caught big brown bats may be infested with mites, ticks, bugs and various endoparasites and should be treated for parasites on arrival in the laboratory. 
  • True/False  Ectoparasites have been implicated in the transmission of white nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans), which is causing rapid destruction of small brown bat populations in North America

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Q17: Coat Color Nomenclature


It's time for some new questions, and this week I'm going to put up a few questions that test your knowledge of coat color nomenclature.  It's a confusing topic, and for many people (including me) it requires a number of iterations before it starts to sink in. So if you're thinking about studying for boards next year, it's never too soon to start thinking about it. Or if you just want to see if you can remember what you once knew... go right ahead!

I'm going to make it relatively easy for you on this first post...

 Considering the following...
A. Nonagouti locus,  a
B. Tyrosinase-related Protein 1 locus,  Tyrp
C. Tyrosinase locus,  Tyr

1. Which is responsible for:
- black/brown color?
- albinism
- agouti coat

2. Regarding the nonagouti gene,
- which is dominant, agouti or nonagouti?
- what is the banding pattern of colors along the hair for agouti?
- what are the colors and banding pattern in a cinnamon mouse?
- is a DBA mouse agouti?

3. Regarding nude mice (OK I know they don't have hair, I digress)
- What is the gene/allele symbol for a nude mouse?  Expand the gene symbol into words...
- What is the developmental abnormality that results in the immune deficiency in nude mice?
- Do they have normal B and NK cells?
- What happens to their immune deficiency as they age?

4. What color is this mouse?
- a/a Tyrp1b/Tyrp1b Tyrc/Tyrc  (please note the alleles should be superscripted, but I can't do that easily on here)

5. What color is this mouse?
- a+/a  Tyrp1B/ Tyrp1b   Tyr C/Tyrc

6. True or false?
- FVB and BALB/c (and other common albino mice) are albino because of a point mutation from a shared ancestor
- Mouse albinism is caused by disruption of the first step in the production of melanin
- The suppression of one gene by another is called epistasis.

7. Which of these gene/alleles are responsible for coat color dilution?
- Myo5a_d
- Mlph_ln
- Lyst_bg
- Kitl_sl
- Kit_W

8.  In Q7, what are the names of the dilution alleles?

Best of luck!  Will post the answers in a week...

Did you know? A group of flamingoes is a flamboyance

Friday, July 21, 2017

Q16: Preparing images for publication and other Photoshop do's and don'ts

Today's post is all about images: how to best use that indispensable tool, Photoshop, without making the kind of errors that degrade your image or make them ineligible for publication. Our questions and answers were provided by Chris Zink, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, [website: canine sports ], who has extensive experience in preparing publication-quality images.

1. When making a new file, you should set the resolution to: (select one)
a) 72 dpi
b) 240 dpi
c) 300 dpi
d) 600 dpi

Layers menu

2. When working on an image in Photoshop, every time you add something to your image (lines, letters, new images to make composites, etc.) you should open a new layer and perform that action on the new layer. The main reason for doing this is so that:_____________________________________

3. True or false: Photoshop works on a vector system, in which the program memorizes the directions of various lines that are drawn when an image is being made. This prevents the problem of pixellation.

4. Which of the following Photoshop modifications can you ethically make to a photographic image of data that you plan to publish in a scientific journal?
a) Selective cropping
b) Whole-image brightening
c) Cloning
d) Changing resolution without resampling
e) White balancing
f) Changing tint
g) Whole-image sharpening
h) Changing resolution with resampling

5. True or False: Photoshop is an excellent program for creating and editing images

6. The best tool to white balance an image is:

a) Brightness Contrast tool;
b) Levels tool
c) Curves tool
d) Color balance tool

7. When adding text to label images in Photoshop, you should generally use:
A                                                             B
A) A serif font
B) A sans serif font

8. True or false? When modifying photographs in Photoshop that you plan to submit to a journal for publication, you should change your image to its final resolution first, so that all of your changes are performed in that resolution.

9. True or false: When modifying images in Photoshop, always record all of the steps you are taking, 

10. True or false:  When you want to save an image that you have been modifying in Photoshop, it doesn’t matter whether you save it as a .tiff or a .psd file – in both cases the image will be saved in layers.

As always, check back next week for the answers!  (Link was temporarily down due to an html near-disaster, but it's back up again now :))

Monday, July 17, 2017

Remembering things... the memory palace and other imaginary objects...

Last week I attended a great workshop on memory - specifically on how to remember things.  I know that this is a topic of perennial interest - even if it's just that you can't remember peoples' names (like me).   And if you took the ACLAM boards exam this past week - congratulations for buckling down to all that studying and best of luck!

So before we get to the memory/mind palace let's talk about a few basics.  I think everyone knows by now that highlighting is a pretty inefficient way to try and commit something to memory.  Ditto reading something through multiple times.  What works is making the brain work hard and pay attention - specifically by thinking about it, testing yourself on the material etc.  That's probably why flash cards work, but only if you really think about the ones you get wrong!  Write yourself questions about the material, close your eyes and see how many facts you can recall from what you just read, even writing summary notes in your own words - it all works better than just reading something.  For more information check out this course from UCSD. I used to write myself notes that were crammed all over the page with boxes, colors, arrows, whatever.  When I came to recall the material I actually visualized the page - which brings me to the first thing I learned in the memory workshop.  Memory is primarily visual.

Because memories are visual,  we were told, you need to actively store them as pictures.  As a kind of
pre-test, we were given a list of 20 objects to remember in their correct order 1 through 20 - not a written list, the instructor read them out loud.   I knew I didn't have a chance of just 'remembering' them so I invented a story in pictures from the words (I can still remember that story and most of the words a week later).  I actually did pretty well in terms of recall (I got 18/20 words in the right order) but didn't do so well on the test because one of the 2 words I missed was early in the sequence so all the other words were one number early... and if I had been asked for word 15 I wouldn't have been able to tell you without recounting the entire sequence ( or not at all because I forgot one word in the sequence).  Which is where the memory palace comes in.

The memory palace allows you to remember the words AND where they sit in the sequence.  How? by associating them with a sequence of objects that you have no trouble remembering.   There are a number of different methods, but the memory palace involves remembering a place you know really well (like your house, your childhood home, etc) and walking through it in a fixed sequence, remembering objects you are familiar with.   You set this "memory palace" in advance and memorize it (not difficult because you already know this place really well).   The example we were given for the 20 objects was to walk around 4 rooms in the same direction and recall 5 objects in each room.   It could be a wall, a toilet, a window, a refrigerator...  you get the idea.   Once that sequence is well established, then you associate your list of 20 words with your objects in the room.  Not just associate, but think of an outrageous and ridiculous association.   Supposing your first memory palace object is a sofa and the object you are trying to remember is cigars - maybe you think of a giant cigar on the sofa, or hundreds of cigars cascading off the sofa, or a monkey smoking a cigar on the sofa...  you get the picture (!).  The effort of thinking of the ridiculous association "fixes" the picture in your brain.  If it's too easy to come up with the association, it will be the one you forget, so work at it.  Repeat this for each object as you walk around the rooms.   Now if you have to recall object 15, you just need to think of the picture association for the 5th object in room 3.  It works, trust me.   I got all 20 (new) objects in the correct sequence on the second 'test.'

Well you might say, this is all great if you have to learn a list of 20 objects, but what if they are NOT
objects?  After all, most of what we might like to learn is not really a grocery list (though come to think of it, having a grocery list in my head might have prevented me forgetting the onions I needed for that recipe last week).  That takes you on to the next stage, which is imagining a picture for something that is not an object.   The example given was names - think of a "sounds like" or picture that brings to mind that name.  For my name, "jewel" would represent "Julie".  So if someone were to want to remember my name, they would picture my face and some amazing jewels ( some nice big diamonds would be good! 😉 ) - perhaps as big as melons...though then they would definitely be fake.  And if a whole group of people needed to be remembered,  then walk around your memory palace and associate the silly face/name combinations with your room objects.

In our profession, there is a lot of rote memorization that might lend itself to these techniques (perhaps nomenclature acronyms or lists of differential diseases).  And failing that, remembering someone's name is definitely a useful skill.   I'm planning on reading more on the subject - lots of books available but this one gets good reviews so it's as good a place to start as any.  If you're taking Boards next year, you might do worse than take in one of these books before you get started on your study journey...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Q 15: What are the do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts) when giving a presentation using powerpoint?

This is a fun one - and an easy one for me to write a question on!

I'll give you a few hints to get you started:


General appearance of the slide
Components you put on the slide
What you talk about
How you talk about it
What accessories you use
Time management

Ok that's enough hints...   suggest you jot some things down on a scratch pad, and see how many you managed to come up with compared to me! (And then think about how you personally would avoid making these mistakes! )

I'm going to be out of town (teaching at the Charles River Short Course next week, then spending a week pursuing my hobby) so it might be a couple of weeks before I get back to this - plenty of time to come up with a good long list!  😉
As always, the answers can be found under answers on the right sidebar Q15...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Q 14: The Naked Mole Rat

Naked Mole Rat
Yes, only a mother could love a creature this ugly, but these mammals are fascinating creatures.  So here are some (fill in the blank or select best option) questions...

  1.   Genus and species is_____________  and this means literally ______________
  2.  The are classified in the order rodentia but are actually not rats or mice, they are most closely related to __________ and ___________ and __________________
  3.  Native to _________ they live entirely in subterranean tunnels
  4.  Tunnels can reach (10 feet/ 10 yards/ 2km/ 2 miles) in length
  5. In captivity a housing system must consist of _____  and _______ and _______and ________components.
  6.  In captivity they must be kept warmer than other lab animals because ____________
  7. Why would water bottles be contraindicated?________________
  8. This is a colony animal with a unique social structure like bees, what is this structure called? _______
  9. A breeding colony can consist of up to (10/30/100/300) animals but contains only ___  breeding female and ____ breeding males
  10. Gestation period is approx _____________days
  11. Litter size is 1x/ 2x / 3x/ that of  outbred rodents 
  12. In captivity, limited  _______ may result in cessation of breeding 
  13. The majority of the non-breeding mole rats are (male/female)
  14. Animals should not be removed from the colony for more than a few minutes because________
  15. Serious aggression between soldiers in the colony can result when ___________________
  16. After the first 2 weeks of age, the diet of pre-weaning pups consists of _____________from ______________________ 
  17.  Sexing naked mole rats is accomplished by _____________________
  18. Their life span is _________________________________________
  19. They lack ___________  and as a result are insensitive to dermal pain
  20. Their unique social structure is the stimulus for research on ______________________________
See answers here! (or check the sidebar Q14)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The answers to the nutrition questions are now posted!   See right sidebar...

And just a sneak preview - these are coming next week so feel free to read about them over the weekend!