Hello there fall!

Charging head first into the new year. It's been a while since our last blog post, but that's not to say the last few weeks haven't been eventful. Besides running experiments, making figures, and submitting grants, we've been up to a lot. Check it out below!

With teaching, classes, rotators, and more awaiting at the start of the academic year, the lab celebrated the waning summer days with a trip out of Cambridge to get dim sum and boba. Despite the challenge of identifying vegetarian-friendly items (not trivial when it comes to Chinese food), we all left with full stomachs. It was even some people's first time trying boba!

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As August turned into September, we had another festive occasion: Amanda's birthday! Since she's not a huge fan of cake, Brian bought some pies from a local bakery, Petsi Pies, to help celebrate.

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Now that the academic year has begun, we're all steeling ourselves for a busy semester. Recently, posters have been popping up around the chemistry department advertising the fall open houses for different labs. Ours is still quite a while away, but we couldn't resist pinning up some posters in the meantime. We'll leave you with our teaser:

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Summertime group bonding

It's been quite an eventful week. Between reorganizing group responsibilities, cleaning the lab, kayaking on the Charles, and engaging in gluttony in the backyard of Harvard Divinity School, our stamina has truly been tested. However, despite the strain on our minds and backs, we all had a blast.

 Tasty.

Tasty.

 Kevin rests his aching body during the cleanup.

Kevin rests his aching body during the cleanup.

First up on the docket: reorganizing and cleaning the lab. Although fighting entropy is no small feat, we were fortunate that our very own Kevin Ngan was among those leading the charge. Several meetings and a full day's worth of cleaning later, we ended up with a myriad of spreadsheets, room upon room of labeled drawers, and a defrosted -80˚C freezer to show for our efforts.

To gather supplies for our upcoming barbecue, we naturally turned to Costco. It was quite the adventure.

 Shopping at Costco.

Shopping at Costco.

 We bought a lot of food.

We bought a lot of food.

Next, taking advantage of the summer sun, we went kayaking on the Charles River. With the barbecue looming later that night, it was probably a good idea to get some exercise in. Many thanks to Ally for spearheading this outing!

 The group poses on dry land.

The group poses on dry land.

 The group poses not on dry land.

The group poses not on dry land.

 Wholesome undergrad friendship.

Wholesome undergrad friendship.

 The boss kicks back while the grad student rows.

The boss kicks back while the grad student rows.

Of course, the highlight of the week was our potluck barbecue. While our lab is normally fairly health-conscious, we put aside our better judgments to enjoy the night.

 The party begins.

The party begins.

 Grillmaster Brian.

Grillmaster Brian.

And that's it! We're all back to our benches (or hoods) now, hard at work. Be on the lookout for some scientific news in the near future :)

...and if you're not tired of seeing our faces, check out the rest of the pictures below!

Thinking outside the box...

Panini press yields improved flavor profile to doughnut

Abstract
Another week, another box of doughnuts, this time as a reconciliation gift from our chronically late pipette tip supplier. Naturally, we slapped it on our panini press.

Methods
We slapped some doughnuts on our panini press.

Results

  Figure 1.  We consume a lot of sugar in this lab.

Figure 1. We consume a lot of sugar in this lab.

  Figure 2.  First authorship goes to the boss himself. "how do you think I got this job? I think outside the box" –Brian B. Liau, 2018

Figure 2. First authorship goes to the boss himself. "how do you think I got this job? I think outside the box" –Brian B. Liau, 2018

  Figure 3.  Image is representative of two independent experiments.

Figure 3. Image is representative of two independent experiments.

Conclusion and Future Directions
The results of this study are highly promising, indicating that this method may have widely applicable utility. Future studies will assess how panini press grilling influences the enjoyability of alternate flavors of doughnuts, as well as other dessserts.

Exodus

The tale of the great departmental evacuation of 2018. With just a few days leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, blaring sirens announced trouble. Like all intrepid scientists, none of us initially paid attention–that is, until we heard there was in fact a chemical leak downstairs and the whole department needed to evacuate. Thankfully, the problem was resolved before the end of the day, but not before we all got a dose of "fish out of the water" syndrome.

Check out the pictures below to learn more about our lab's foray . . . outside.

 The group enjoys some refreshing gelato to cool off from the hot day.

The group enjoys some refreshing gelato to cool off from the hot day.

 Same gelato, different camera angle. PC: B.B. Liau.

Same gelato, different camera angle. PC: B.B. Liau.

 Professor Liau prepares a lecture for the class...

Professor Liau prepares a lecture for the class...

 ...until we were kicked out of said classroom. Time for class outside!

...until we were kicked out of said classroom. Time for class outside!

Abandoned brewery plans...

An undergrad-friendly adventure. What do you do when you plan an impromptu brewery outing but find out only upon arriving that anyone under 21 needs a parent or guardian present to enter?* You turn around and go to a local pub for beer and burgers! After all, family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.

*And yes, we did call ahead. They straight up lied to us.

 The Liau Lab enjoys beer and wholesome American food at a local watering hole, RF O'Sullivan's.

The Liau Lab enjoys beer and wholesome American food at a local watering hole, RF O'Sullivan's.

Sweet summer days in the Liau Lab

Good PIs and departments know that donuts are the fuel for excellent research. Our newest three graduate students received a warm welcome with Union Square Donuts twice in one week! With all the sugar going around, it looks like the lab is in for an energized summer brimming with science.

 Enjoying donuts and cold brew coffee courtesy of the GPC of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department!

Enjoying donuts and cold brew coffee courtesy of the GPC of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department!

 Donuts from the weekly farmer's market provided by the Principal Investigator himself. In the background, you can spy some of the pretzels the lab is addicted to, along with a set of chopsticks for mess-free eating.

Donuts from the weekly farmer's market provided by the Principal Investigator himself. In the background, you can spy some of the pretzels the lab is addicted to, along with a set of chopsticks for mess-free eating.

Synthetic chemists enter tissue culture

 As any synthetic chemistry lab does, we all appreciate a high enantiomeric or diastereomeric excess. However, generating multiple substrates in one flask has proven to be quite useful as YP and Amanda begin to test some of the compounds that they have been working on over the past few months. Also pictured in the foreground is Kevin, who is, in general quite excited about biology.  Cindy is also in this picture somewhere...

As any synthetic chemistry lab does, we all appreciate a high enantiomeric or diastereomeric excess. However, generating multiple substrates in one flask has proven to be quite useful as YP and Amanda begin to test some of the compounds that they have been working on over the past few months. Also pictured in the foreground is Kevin, who is, in general quite excited about biology.  Cindy is also in this picture somewhere...

Winter Has Arrived in Cambridge

We've been preparing for hibernation this winter by bulking up with chocolate and food at various holiday parties. One of the well-known caveats of joining an interdisciplinary research group is access to multiple department holiday parties.

In addition, the first-year graduate students (aka G1s) have been settling nicely into the group since officially joining in December. As Brian's first round of students, it is an understatement to say that we are excited to help create a culture that will last for years to come. For those of us that are interested by the history of the department, it has been quite the pleasure to work in the space of what used to be the storied lab of Prof. Dave Evans. However, we are very much looking forward to moving into our new space in just a few months (pictures will follow!).