Big Is Small, and Small Is Big

Thank you to everyone for sharing their projects this week! It felt like looking through a kaleidoscope: so many different colors, angles, combinations in biology and in people’s attempts to understand life. One thing I learned from all of your talks is to remember to zoom in and out on this kaleidoscope.

By zooming in, big questions come down to acute focuses. Hsp70 is one of the many things that Bio201 hammered into my head this past spring. Nevertheless, I was still fascinated when Tamanna shared in her talk that the Hsp70 family can facilitate parasite survival by mitigating the effects of temperature change as the parasite enters from cold-blooded mosquito into the warm-blooded human host. Many of the malaria studies that I have read before relate to genetic modification in mosquitoes or massacre of mosquitoes, and Tamanna’s chalk talk directs me to look at malaria from a new perspective. Her zooming in from the big question that Plasmodium falciparum results in falciparum malaria, to the moment this parasite getting transmitted from mosquito to humans through a bite, to finally the C-terminal LID domain of PfHsp70-1 binding with PI3P turned this giant ball of problem into a sharp focus. With her clear delivery, it really became clear to me why her lab is doing what it’s doing (wow that’s some cool stuff) and how a big mystery can be teased apart bit by bit. By zooming back out and looking at the broader applications, one can also see clearly that the small dots on the ITC curves can link together something of great significance.

This applies to every single chalk talk that I had the great pleasure listening to this week. As we become more and more familiar with our lab schedules and more and more at ease carrying out each step after rounds and rounds of repetition, I believe it is important to keep thinking why we’re doing what we’re doing and how everything comes together (eventually). Big can be small, and small can be big.

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