We did our first PSS on bioinformatics today, and it was a lot better than yesterday if for no other reason than that we were actually doing something. Basically, we were given a protein and instructed to use the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) website to find out various things about it, such as what proteins in other organisms it is homologous to, how many isoforms of it there are, and how those isoforms are related. There were eight questions total, and we got through two of them and most of the third, so we will finish the rest of them tomorrow and Friday. I felt that the website we were using to look up this information wasn't particularly user-friendly, but apparently there is another European site that is easier to use, so I think tomorrow we are going to try that. On the other hand, there were some neat features of the site, like the tool that it uses to match up the proteins. It's kind of impressive how much homology there is between the human version of the protein and the versions in mice, frogs, zebrafish, and even rice plants.
On a completely different note, this is kind of a freaky thing: there are four people in the class whose birthdays are all this week, one after another. Since there are only 32 of us, that's a pretty impressive coincidence. Actually, it seems like half the people in my class have their birthdays in August; there were some more birthdays earlier this month, too.