GSW is a site that was created to provide an interactive space for social exchange between graduate students. Its mission is to foster a sense of community by addressing issues related to the ‘graduate student experience’ and providing practical solutions. GSW provides career coaching, addresses issues facing grad students, and offers solutions. I am a contributor and administrator for the site.

You can write your thesis or dissertation in one month or less—IF you use these tricks during grad school!!

I devoted this article to strategies that enable grad students to get ahead through intelligent literature searches, organizing references in citation manager software, and working ahead on Introduction and Methods chapters. Write Your Thesis in a Month or Less!

Is a PhD Really Worth It?

This article examines the question posed in the title in light of the recent downturn in biomedical funding and numerous reports of poor job prospects for PhDs. I get input from 2 PhDs who have transitioned out of academia, and provide my own insight from the perspective of a former postdoc and scientific recruiter. Read it here: Is A PhD Really Worth It?

Since I love cooking and writing, it seemed natural that I should write about cooking. Flipped-Out Food began as a subpage on this website, but as of January 2017, had grown into a site of its own at In this corner of the interwebs, I blog about strategies for easily making wholesome, good food on a budget. (Being a scientist, I have to throw in a bit of science/food geekery here and there.) New recipes are published approximately once each week. Check out the site for samples of my writing about all things food!

Academic Work

The following is a sampling of the heavily technical, scientific articles I have written during my academic career.

PhD: scorpion toxins and ryanodine receptors

Ryanodine Receptors

This review article was written with two co-authors, and covered all things ryanodine receptor. These intracellular calcium channels were the subject of my graduate work. They are extra-nifty because of their involvement in calcium release that triggers contraction in cardiac muscle–but also because they are found in just about every tissue type, and in an amazing array of animals–right down to the invertebrates. For more, go to Ryanodine Receptors!

Characterization of hadrucalcin, a peptide from Hadrurus gertschi scorpion venom with pharmacological activity on ryanodine receptors.

This was an original research article written with a co-author. Take home message: Hadrucalcin is a newly-described scorpion toxin that activates the cool calcium channels I mentioned above. For LOTS more information: Hadrucalcin.

Imperatoxin A, a Cell-Penetrating Peptide from Scorpion Venom, as a Probe of Ca2+-Release Channels/Ryanodine Receptors

This article is about Imperatoxin, a close cousin of Hadrucalcin (mentioned above). Written with a co-author, the article explains how Imperatoxin is really cool because it can cross cell membranes with a cargo attached and deliver the cargo to the inside of cells. This type of strategy could be used for neat, new ways of delivering drugs that wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to cells’ insides. For TONS more detail, check out Imperatoxin.

Master’s Degree: scorpion taxonomy

Description of a New Species in the Nitidulus Group of the Genus Vaejovis (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae)

This article describes a new species of scorpion from the Sonora desert in Mexico, and appeared in the Journal of Arachnology. It was written as part of my Master’s work (sole author). The article is written in the telegraphic style that is characteristic of taxonomic works, and also includes my scientific drawings of the new species’ diagnostic features.

A New Genus and Species of Psammophilic Scorpion From Iran

This article describes a new genus and species of sand-loving (psammophilic) scorpion from the Beluchistan province of Iran. It was written with two co-authors and published in a book honoring a scorpion taxonomist who had recently passed away in a storm on the Sea of Cortez. The article is written in telegraphic style, and includes my scientific drawings of the type specimen.

Redescription of the genus Plesiobuthus Pocock, 1900 from Pakistan.

Why a “redescription”? Well, the type specimen that was used in the original description waaaaay back in 1900 was lost. This article, written with a co-author, designates a NEW type specimen for the genus and provides a complete description. The article is written in the telegraphic style that is characteristic of taxonomic works, and also includes my scientific drawings.


Much of the work above was published under my maiden name, E. Michelle Capes.