Susan Gelman

Susan Gelman is a graduate student in the chemistry department at Washington University in St. Louis, with an emphasis on biological chemistry. Her research focuses on metabolomics and cancer metabolism.

Posts by Susan Gelman

When DNA Becomes Data

In the past 10-20 years, we have seen a lot of data storage methods come and go, each type bigger and better than the last. As a child of the early 1990s, my first introduction to data storage devices was the floppy disk. These disks stored about 1.4 MB, a pitifully small amount these days. […]

UN Antibiotic Resistance

When most of us think about bacteria, we think of fairly routine infections that can be cured with a trip to the doctor and a prescription for antibiotics. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is quickly rising, and now more than 700,000 people die around the world each year from drug-resistant […]

The Great Science “Hack”

The DIY (do-it-yourself) trend continues to grow in popularity these days. With DIY TV networks and websites like Pinterest serving as a hub for tips and ideas, more and more people are embracing the idea of performing tasks themselves instead of purchasing pre-made items or outsourcing. Science hasn’t been left out of the trend, and […]

“Meat Without Misery”

There is something about food that typically causes us to feel traditional. Perhaps it is that we have fond memories of eating our favorite recipes during childhood, or that we grew up eating family dinners each night. But no matter the reason, we tend to like our food to be “natural” and no different than […]

No Pain, Lots Of Gain

We’re all familiar with pain. Ranging from a stubbed toe to a severe injury, some level of pain is experienced on a near daily basis. But many of us are fortunate enough that our experiences with pain tend to be limited to relatively brief episodes that will eventually end, sooner or later. Yet for a […]

We Are What We Eat

The food we consume and the resulting benefits/hazards of specific items have been in the spotlight for quite some time now. Each week there is a new food to eat for superior health, and every other week there is another food villain to avoid. This is not surprising given the level of importance food plays […]

Meat Of The Matter

There are a multitude of ways to shock an audience, but it is not every day that a news item causes fear, disdain, and skepticism all with one headline. Yet somehow the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) managed to do just this on Oct. 26 by announcing that everyday food items such as […]

Katrina’s Other Resonance

As a graduate student researcher, I work in a mass spectrometry lab with five different types of spectrometers. These instruments are highly sensitive to the environment (and also extremely expensive), and small perturbations or temperature fluctuations can be very harmful. This means that every power outage, building exhaust issue, and volatile substance can cause our […]

Big Genomic Promise of Big Data

Highlighted by the recent embryonic genetic engineering (CRIPSR/Cas9) controversy, advances in genetics and genomics have been made in leaps and bounds in the past twenty years. It is now relatively easy for us to obtain genetic information about ourselves (23andme DNA kits, for example), and even our pets. Entire genome sequencing is now possible, albeit […]

The Bite That Kills

Summer is finally here and for some of us, the sweat-inducing humidity and high electrical bills are the least of our worries. Mosquito bites are inevitable for nearly anyone who ventures outside, but unfortunately the blood-sucking insects display a definite preference for their victims. And while multiple bites can be an itchy nightmare for those […]

Trans Fats’ Last Stand

Forrest Gump famously told us that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” And while life does throw us curveballs we still need to be wary of that box of chocolates, among other processed foods. A danger of eating prepackaged and processed foods is the cleverly hidden and […]

Desalination Complication

As a born-and-raised Californian now living in the Midwest, I’ve recently experienced a lot of new things for the first time: toasted ravioli, friendly strangers and, most importantly, seasons. But surprisingly I’ve adjusted faster than I could have predicted, to the point that when it’s constantly raining here in St. Louis and all the greenery […]

Friendly Eyes

Anyone with a dog or who has spent time around a dog knows the power of the ‘puppy eyes’ well. It’s that piercing look, topped with expressive eyebrows that make you say, “Sure Fido, you can have some of my filet mignon, most of the bed space, and half of the couch.” It’s a look […]

What Is “Natural”?

Michael Pollan recently wrote a piece in The New York Times discussing why nothing is truly natural anymore. I don’t always agree with Pollan’s views, but this piece resonated, as this idea has been tossed around quite frequently. Pollan spoke about the word ‘natural’ in context of the food industry, but the argument has much […]

Seize The Decay

We’ve all been there: holding the fridge door open as we cast a skeptical eye over that 4-day old package of meat, wondering if it’s still good or if maybe we’re better off throwing it out and ordering a pizza for dinner. I personally try and do the majority of my grocery shopping on the […]

Science Shaming

As a researcher and dilettante science blogger, I come across a lot of things on the Internet I find irritating: poorly written papers, inaccurate methods, unsubstantiated scientific claims, ‘nutrition bloggers,’ and so on. Hilarious science writer Adam Ruben posted a piece a few months back titled ‘How to P*ss Off a Scientist,’ where he listed […]

Science’s Three-Way Split

It’s no secret the general public is not always in agreement with scientists, but a recent study from the Pew Research Center shows just how divisive certain issues can be. [Editor’s note: See also Matthew Lawder’s post on this same topic, “Science vs. The People.”] In August 2014 approximately 2,000 adults across the country were […]

The Antibiotic Re-Think

Foregoing antibiotics in farm animals has become a recent trend among the uber health conscious, now trickling down to the masses. McDonald’s announced this month that the company is making moves to phase out their use of chickens grown on human antibiotics within the next two years. This is a huge step in the food […]

Tilting The Apple Cart

Exciting news was announced Friday, Feb. 13, when the USDA approved two versions of apples genetically engineered to resist enzymatic browning—you know, that unappealing color apples turn after being cut and exposed to oxygen. Developed by small Canadian company Okangan Specialty Fruits (OSF), the new apples are modified versions of the classic Golden Delicious and Granny […]

Father Of The Pill

Sixty-two years ago, in a small laboratory in Mexico City, the world changed for chemists, biologists and, most of all, women. That’s when, on Oct. 15, 1951, Carl Djerassi became the first to synthesize the hormone norethindrone, known today as an essential ingredient in the oral contraceptive pill. Djerassi passed away this week at 91 years old. Given […]

Sexism In Science

About a month ago, The New York Times published a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching piece on Marguerite Perey. Credited with the discovery of radioactive compound francium, she soon after died a gruesome death as a consequence of prolonged exposure to radiation. The piece was in fact written by the great-great-niece of Perey, and praise for the brilliance […]

Bac To The Future

Antibiotics have received a great deal of media attention in the wake of the recent discovery of teixobactin, a new soil bacterium with strong antibiotic properties. Northeasten University professor Kim Lewis and a team of scientists found teixobactin in soil samples from a grass field in Maine through the use of an iChip, a board with holes […]

Nobel, Not Nobility

With the current rise of chemophobia, anti-vaccine sentiments, and attempted government bans on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we are in an interesting dichotomy of science and society. Our technology and scientific knowledge pushes new boundaries every day and is often celebrated on popular websites such as Buzzfeed and I F—ing Love Science, yet there is […]


‘Omics’ has been a science buzzword for the past few years, as well as the butt of many jokes; a certain genomics center includes a badomics generator on its website, which puts the suffix on random words to create fake but strangely compelling journal publication titles. University of California, Davis professor Jonathan Eisen regularly announces […]

Research On Research

Every few months, the media catches wind of a new scientific discovery and headlines everywhere pronounce that the world’s problems have been solved. The cure for autism, cancer, depression, and other maladies; the proposed results sound promising and exciting, but upon reading further into the literature, implications of the data become more and more hazy. […]

Voting On Science

With another Nov. 4 come and gone, some statewide science ballot items deserved national attention. This time another two states, Colorado and Oregon, voted on the mandatory genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling initiative. As in California and Washington in 2012 and 2013, Proposition 105 (Colorado) and Measure 92 (Oregon) aimed to require the food industry to label […]

When Worlds Collide

We’re all familiar with the TV episode where characters dream up an alternate universe, and wake up to their familiar one where everything goes back to ‘normal.’ This is typically regarded as a scientific plot device, though from a hard science point of view parallel universes are nothing to be scoffed at, as the study […]

Open Access’ Future

As the largest scientific society currently existing, the American Chemical Society (ACS) serves many purposes for chemists, as well as scientists in other disciplines. It organizes national and regional meetings where researchers can present and share their data, provides members with job listings, offers educational training opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, it publishes a wide range of […]

Taking Stock of Bonds

Every fall semester, nearly a thousand bright-eyed freshmen take their seats for Chemistry 111, and told that throughout the course they will learn the story of the electron. It makes for a great cohesive semester (though famously challenging for the students), as the professors move through electron properties, atomic structure, and molecular orbitals to arrive at […]

“The Sagan/Tyson Problem”

I like to play a game whenever meeting someone new. I try and guess what the reaction will be when it’s discovered I am a chemist. The most common response is a look of terror and disgust, and the inevitable, “Oh I hated chemistry in high school!” The other most likely alternative is: “Does that mean […]

Chemistry’s Sweet Side

As Halloween approaches it seems like an appropriate time to have some fun and celebrate confectionery chemistry. We rarely think about chemical concepts when indulging a sweet tooth, but as chemistry is in everything, it’s time to explore our favorite treats in depth: Marshmallows: These squishy goods are produced by mixing gelatin, egg white, corn syrup, […]