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G-Protein Coupled Receptor Signaling Brian Kobilka: 2012 Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 9/13/13

A Reflection on a Perspective Event and my Views of Learning Rylee Knips


When I learn something, I usually dip my toe in to see if the content is the right temperature for me to adjust to. If I think the subject is close enough to my comfort zone, I slowly immerse myself into the material. However, this was not the case when I stayed in Chem 200 after my Biology and Society class to view a presentation by Brian Kobilka, the 2012 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Sitting in that lecture, I cannonballed into the pool of a subject foreign to me. The beginning I could handle. The audience learned about Kobilka as a student. He had an innate ability to do research. This aided him in his search to discover that the cells in our body can sense their environments. I learned that Kobilka started UMD in 1973 where his brilliance led him to be a part of two major publications. In 1977, he got his degree from UMD, then he headed over to Yale for his medical degree to work with Buckley, and he ventured into experiences at Washington University and Duke University as well. Nevertheless, this was only the beginning of the presentation, the easy part. As soon as Kobilka began to speak, I was underwater, drowning in new and unusual information. The PowerPoint was pretty. As an avid doodler, I appreciated the curves and lines that made up the pictures and animations on the slides. But honestly, the information was too much for me to handle. It was like watching racecars. I knew in my head that all of the information I was viewing was different and changing, but everything blurred by me so quickly that I was unable to comprehend it. Now, I could tell you that Brian Kobilka cloned the cell membrane receptors, and I could tell you that drugs target the G-protein coupled receptors. I could tell you that the G-protein and an agonist would aid in stabilization, and I could tell you that proteins must be crystalized in order to be analyzed. But these facts are merely excerpts taken from the notes that I struggled to put down in a way that I understood. I learned less at this presentation about G-protein coupled receptor signaling than I did about the way I learn. I learned that I dont like to jump right in. I enjoy wading in the shallow end. I like going down the steps so I can adjust comfortably to the waves of information flowing my way. I like to read and reread until I grasp an entire concept before I move on. Sitting in that lecture hall was probably one of the most uncomfortable times in my life. I normally take pride in knowing what is going on in front of me. This experience was humbling in the way that it jarred me from thinking that I could understand everything, and it was empowering in the way that it showed me that even if I dont understand everything, I can still get through it, finding my way back up to the surface.