Returning to research
I learned that there’s apparently something that we used in the lab that most people use outside of research. Can you guess what it is? It’s milk! The postdoc was showing me how to do a Western Blot and, well, milk is used in so many of the steps. I’m not kidding. We literally have a box of instant nonfat milk that we add to different solutions. Although I guess I cheated a little, since I’ve never seen anyone use powdered milk at home. We use it in research because it has a lot of proteins which makes it useful, but the smell — it could be improved upon.
This week, I returned to research. The only unfortunate part of doing research in the summer is commuting with my dad, since that means I’m often up by 5 a.m. I usually wake early (and sleep late — not a healthy combo!), but 5 a.m. is pushing it a little for me. I don’t know how my dad manages to do it week after week. I can’t complain too much since I do get to sleep on the commute.
I absolutely adore my PI and post-doc. They’re both incredibly friendly and patient, which is especially nice since starting out I make a lot of mistakes. They also take a lot of time to explain both what to do and why we do it.
Tip: When you’re beginning research, sometimes it’s more important to look at the people running the lab than what the lab is researching. Some research will be more interesting than others, but oftentimes it is the people who make or break the lab. Especially when you’re starting out, it’s important to find someone who is willing to be a mentor.
Right now, I’m doing standard curves to validate primers. This might sound fancy, but the concept is actually simpler than it sounds. How a standard curve works is I have data points (replicates) that I want to be close together. It helps make sure my results are reproducible and I can use the primer for the rest of the experiments. In order to do this, I need to make a bunch of qRT-PCR plates, so it’s a little tedious but very important. The only problem is that I’m absolutely horrible at it. The replicates aren’t close and I have some data points two or three times larger than they should be (or in one case nine times). It’s most likely pipetting errors, so I’ll get better with practice. It’s still a little embarrassing how bad my results are.
The highlight of my week was when my friend sent me this poem. Be warned, it’s a little cheeky:
Oh God of Agarose,
Hallowed be thy gel,
When PCR is done,
Thy wells will become
Loaded, with orange and blue
Give us this day our separate bands
And forgive us our bad visualizations
As we forgive those who pinch the stain box
Lead us not into the dark room
But deliver us from supervisors
For thine is the DNA, the hyperladder, and the buffer
For now, and until 5 p.m.
Cammille Go is a sophomore majoring in biochemistry as part of the GPPA Medicine program. She hopes to become a physician in the future but is open to exploring other personal interests, especially in the humanities and arts. Her superpower is somehow finding a way to getting excited about anything and everything. In her free time, which is often nonexistent, she enjoys dancing, making jewelry and graphic design.