Sunday, June 24, 2012


    It seems one of the hardest virtues for me to willingly accept is patience.  This was made clear to me once again last week when I was in the lab.
    I ran into a predicament. In order to make my Zinc metallacrowns, I need to have an abundance of ligand (S-B-phenylalanine hydroxamic acid), which is one of my reagents. I ran out, so for the past 12 days or so, I’ve been trying to synthesize more. The procedure we’re following has been carried out before in our lab, so it’s not really research. It’s kind of like following a multi-step recipe to bake a cake. I figured it would be straightforward and only take a few days to work up, but I still don’t have any.
S-B-phenylalanine hydroxamic acid

    At one point I was discussing with a visiting professor from Italy, Matteo (he’s here on sabbatical) on why my synthesis wasn’t working and just yelled out, “I want my ligand!” We talked a bit more about the problem, but the thing I took away most was the last thing he said. “Michael, the greatest virtue of a chemist is patience.” (in a wicked Italian accent!)
    It seems when adversity comes my way, I always try to test the waters with patience, and mostly it comes back to bite me in the butt. Many times I’ve been injured from running, and I’ll somehow convince my athletic trainer to let me try running a week or so ahead of schedule, only to set myself back three weeks more than if I would have just waited and stuck to the schedule. Patience is one of the harder things to accept sometimes, especially when we’re anxious and feel like we need something immediately in our lives right here and now.
    Since my talk with Matteo, I’ve enjoyed less stress in the lab and know that things take time. Healing from a running injury takes time. Recrystallizing an ester in methanol takes time. Drying a solid in a vacuum takes time. Life takes time, and those who succeed most are the ones who accept their circumstances as what they are and focus on changing the things in their power.
    Another area I’m having to exercise great patience in life right now is the upcoming fall semester. In my last post, I alluded to the notion that I was confident that pursuing a graduate degree in chemistry wasn’t the chosen path for me. Over the past two weeks, the Lord has shown me more through this experience and through some conversations with people whom I respect and trust that God may have another plan for me based on what I want out of life.
    The career that’s appealed to me most so far has been physical therapist. In high school, I went through a phase where I really thought I wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon, but once I stepped foot in the operating room, I knew I couldn’t handle the blood. As a runner who’s been consistently injured over his career, I’ve really appreciated all the help and comfort I’ve received from PTs who have gotten me back to doing the thing I love, running. It would be rewarding to help and see other people resume their normal activities, knowing that I played a role in helping them. I’m not dead set on pursing PT yet, I still have a lot of thinking and praying to do. I just need to be patient in the process and wait for the Lord to point me in the direction He’s chosen for me.

I had to wear my first shirt and tie in 10th grade for my mentorship in orthopaedic medicine. I still wear that outfit for all formal occasions, we've been through a lot together. It's next appearance: August 3, Southbend, IN to present my research on Metallacrowns.

Getting ready to head into the O.R. with Dr. Aadalen. I didn't know what was coming!

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