500 Words At A Time: First We Get The Brain Scan

I never intended to become a researcher while here. I don’t mind doing research for stories, games, or personal projects, but research for college, in a professional manner…ick. Okay, maybe not ick, but not on my radar.

And then I met Paul Zube.

Then I told him an observation I had stumbled across.

Then he told me that we could get my brain scanned.

And that is how for a brief, if you count two years as brief, time I was a researcher here at Ferris.

The observation was due to another blogger’s blog, SeattlePolyChick, who after a bad motorcycle accident had to use voice-to-text software to create her blog posts for a while. Something about her writing style changed, I noticed. I asked, she told me what she was doing, and that up to me asking nobody had noticed.

Paul saw that as a research opportunity. Find out if there is a difference, who notices, and why. I was going to be the researcher and the cookie to get me going, a scan of my brain. Why would I want my brain scanned? Who doesn’t? If you answered, you; odds are you are not fit to be a researcher. :)Truth be told, the brain scan was to be at the long, very long, end of a chain of research that could have taken me from undergrad into grad school. He had me at brain scan.

Some of you may be saying or thinking, of course there was a difference in SeattlePolyChick’s writting style when she was using voice-to-text software and you too would recognize the differences. And you may be right, but could you demonstrate how and why? Turns out at the time we started the research, nobody could.

To get the research ball started, Paul and I (mostly Paul) filled out paperwork for the Summer Research Fellowship, which is a program for summer research projects that culminates in a presentation. Typically, the Summer Research Fellowship is a science fest-the year I presented was the following:

  • giving fish cancer, curing them, and giving them cancer again
  • breaking a rat’s back, tossing it into a pool of water, and watching as it swam in circles
  • flies
  • eyeball
  • drug interaction something or the other

and then…

  • Etruscan artwork and the representation of a warrior-goddess
  • Oxbow (the black handled kitchen wear found everywhere) ads

and me

Suffice to say, the three non-science people were the odd balls.

However, before that presentation was a summer of research, experimentation on the blogs, a survey, and my favorite the IRB. I have forgotten or never knew what IRB stood for, but the gist of the IRB is to make sure that I understand that experimenting on people is BAD and will not be tolerated…except under certain pre-approved conditions. Because our project would involve people, even though their involvement would only be to read and take a voluntary survey, we needed IRB approval and I needed to take the IRB test.

If you are seeking IRB approval, the reading is interesting in that “Yes, I know that experimenting on human beings like A, B, and C did is bad” way and the test, is multiple choice with the answer practically highlighted to reinforce that experimenting on people is bad. Thus, imagine the irony of one of the literature reviews was a father experimenting on his children, apparently he did not seek IRB approval.

IRB approval taken care of, research began, but is another 500 Words or two.


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