Katy Van Hook

A final farewell from Dr. Van Hook

Well hello to you, all of my long lost friends! It has been ages (years even) since I wrote to you about my graduate school happenings and I feel I owe you an update and a bit of an explanation for my absence. First and foremost, I’M DONE! I did it, I pulled the sword from the stone, slayed the dragon, and kissed the fat lady on the cheek as she was singing my swan … Read More

Insanity, table for one

So it’s that time of year again where amid the smoky remnants of summer BBQs and the promise of crisp fall air I can just barely detect what can only be recognized as the smell of burning second year grad student brains. It’s qual season. A handful of posts back I promised to elaborate on this terrifying right of passage and I intend to make good. But first a quick refresher for the non-students among … Read More

Forget baseball, there is DEFINITELY crying in science

Today’s blog post comes straight from the request line. At the behest of my adoring public we are going to delve into the subject of–wait for it–crying in science. A strange topic perhaps but let my motives be clear. There is something very cathartic about knowing that you are not the only graduate student who has simply lost it on some poor unsuspecting peer (or in my case several faculty members). And if nothing else … Read More


So summer has officially arrived in the Pacific northwest and I always laugh as the re-emergence of the sun brings out the vampire tendencies in hard core Oregonians as they shield their eyes and run in doors. Personally, I welcome the sun but with the sunshine comes a bit of bad news this year. This week marks the last week for the incomparable Jeanne Sutter, our School of Medicine administrator extraordinaire as she moves back … Read More

Commencement and sour grapes

I attended commencement on Monday because two of my good friends graduated from medical school and it was a much more informative affair than I expected. More than anything it was a rather motivating event that reminded me how badly I want to walk across that stage next year. As a veteran member of the drone army of graduate students I long ago forgot about the possibility of a graduation date but watching this year’s … Read More

Sunshine, OJ, and 18,000 of my closest friends

No discussion about graduate school is complete without talking about the glorious bench work oasis that is attending a conference. Yep, you heard me right–approximately once a year they let us geeks out of the lab and set us loose on some poor unsuspecting city. This year I attended the American Association of Cancer Research national meeting in Orlando, Florida. Now before you get jealous of my reprieve from the endless rain of the Pacific … Read More

Eat your heart out Julie Andrews

Confidence can go a long way in any field and science is no exception. I got a helpful reminder of this notion last week at my TAC meeting (thesis advisory committee meeting for those of you not hip to graduate student acronyms). If you recall from my post about why getting your PhD takes so long, a student’s TAC is made up of 4-5 faculty members—of the student’s choosing—who will ultimately decide when they defend/graduate. … Read More

What’s spring break?

Ok kids, this post has got to be short and sweet because I am seriously deluged by work at the moment. Spring is notorious for being busy and this year is no exception. I’m prepping for lab meeting next week, working on my poster for the conference I’m presenting at in 2 weeks, and trying not to panic about the TAC (thesis advisory committee) meeting I scheduled for myself the week I get back from … Read More

Does size matter?

As I’m sure most of you are aware the life of a grad student doesn’t involve a lot of car chases or celebrity scandal so my ideas on what to write about tend to be scarce. Inspiration struck this week while I was having lunch with an invited seminar speaker (who unfortunately has not had tragic plastic surgery or checked into rehab recently) and the conversation rolled around to lab dynamics and the pros and … Read More

…Ahhh to be young

This past week I spoke to a group of high school students for their career day about being a scientist and about what grad school entails. As I prepared my slides I all but high fived myself for how hilarious and cool these kids were going to think I was. I relished the fact that I was going to shatter the illusion that scientists are lab coat-wearing glasses-pushers while simultaneously inspiring a new generation of … Read More



Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

Participation Guidelines

Remember: information you share here is public; it isn't medical advice. Need advice or treatment? Contact your healthcare provider directly. Read our Terms of Use and this disclaimer for details.