Pour off old media. Wash twice with Hank’s salt solution. Add 5 milliliters of thawed trypsin and pour off. Wait five minutes. Use 5 milliliters of alpha-10 to quench the reaction. Add 1-2 drops of liquid culture to each of two new flasks, which should each contain 20 milliliters of alpha-10. Add 20 milliliters of alpha-10 to the original flask. Incubate all flasks at 37°C and check regularly.
I’ve been working with Dr. Thomasson on his cancer research all year. I’ve been performing the above procedure, which we call “splitting the cells,” since September. But it wasn’t until last week that I truly had an epiphany. I absolutely love working in the lab.
Since I’ve been a biology major, I’ve enjoyed micropipetting and looking through microscopes and figuring out where I may have introduced error into my experiment. However, last week, it just really hit me: I love working in the lab. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the structure of DNA, my molecular techniques class watched a NOVA documentary about Rosalind Franklin’s underestimated role in Watson and Crick’s field-changing work. In the film, one of the interviewed speakers talked about how Franklin didn’t just enjoy science for the end results, as do most scientists, but she enjoyed science for the entire process of it. While watching the documentary, I was sort of taken aback by that statement. I like results, and I like looking at where I go right and wrong. However, I never had really before thought of enjoying the journey of science more than the final destination.
The next day, I was literally just standing at the lab sink washing beakers that I’d previously used for splitting some of Dr. T’s cells. And you know what? I had this huge smile on my face. I was having the best time ever washing those beakers. Have Dr. T and I cured cancer? Definitely not. But just the prospect that we could make an important discovery or that we could be contributing valuable insight to others in the field is something to be proud of.
My friends will tell you that I’m very impatient, and they would be correct. I don’t like to sit around waiting for things to happen. As my friend and fellow blogger Carly would probably say, I like to be a catalyst and make things happen faster than they normally would. That’s probably why I started my newer method of thawing the trypsin enzyme in the water bath before gathering the necessary supplies for the above cell-splitting procedure instead of using my older method, which involved setting up the rest of the supplies and then thawing the frozen enzyme. However, in light of my newfound love of the entire process of science – not just a love of the results – I don’t think that waiting on the trypsin will be as tedious as I once found it to be.
I guess you could say that I hit the ground running as soon as I began as a freshman at Fontbonne over two and a half years ago. My first semester, I took 18 credit hours, with classes such as general biology, general chemistry, and intro to statistics. Since then, I’ve never taken less than 18 hours per semester, and there have been times when I’ve been enrolled in upwards of six science classes per semester. Call me crazy, but I’ve always looked forward to a challenge.
This afternoon, I made out my fall 2013 schedule. Let me tell you- I was shocked by how different this semester will be for me. Gone will be the days of sleepless nights due to chemistry, molecular biology, and the like. Instead, I’ll be finishing up some gen eds and theatre classes for my theatre minor. Instead of multiple bio classes, I’ll only have one “official” class, immunology. (However, I’m definitely hoping for some department research and independent study courses!) I should have a lot more time since I should only have classes two days per week, so I’m hoping to get an outside internship in a research lab and possibly work more hours at the Science Center.
All in all, this coming school year will definitely be a new experience for me. I hope I’ll be able to use my extra time to better my lab skills, to better my abilities to interpret primary research articles, and to prepare myself for graduate school and life beyond Fontbonne.
Tomorrow, Monday, March 4, the Biological Sciences Organization will be hosting our semesterly bake sale. Usually, we donate a portion of the proceeds from our sales to animal adoptions. And, though we absolutely love animals and strongly support and promote saving their habitats, we have decided to break from tradition in order to support another worthy cause: breast cancer research.
On campus, a few students (including me) led by Dr. Thomason and Dr. Rayhel are currently working with the EMT6 breast cancer cell line and with mouse-derived macrophage cells. Dr. Thomasson originally published his research in the 1980s. Right now, we are trying to determine which new route we would like to take with this work.
So if you have any questions about the research we are performing on campus, or if you would like to support the cause and purchase a baked treat, stop by the BSO table tomorrow in the Ryan corridor between 11:30 and 1:30. We will have a variety of cupcakes, cookies, and other delicacies available for just $1 each, and every person who purchases a treat will receive a free handmade breast cancer ribbon of their choice in order to wear to show their support. We hope to see you tomorrow!!
As many of you who’ve ready my previous blogs probably know by now, I came to Fontbonne for the biotechnology program. This program helps to prepare students for life in biotechnology and biological research careers, which is, of course, the profession that I want to enter one day.
It’s my third year at Fontbonne, and I’m happy to say that I’m finally taking some “real” biotechnology courses. I’m currently taking Biotech I with Dr. Ned Watson and an independent-study Biotech IV course with Dr. Thomasson. I absolutely love both classes.
Today in Biotech I, we learned sterile techniques. Essentially, we learned how to properly pipette sterile liquids into sterile reaction tubes. This is much easier said than done. It took us a few tries, and I wouldn’t call us pros yet, but I think we got the hang of it pretty quickly. Then, we plated E. coli using the streak plate method that we learned back in Microbiology (which has been my favorite completed class thus far at Fontbonne). But unlike in Micro, we were allowed to use the open flame of a Bunsen burner to flame our inoculating loops. Is that more dangerous? Potentially. Is it more fun? Definitley.
I took Microbiology my freshman year, and labs were always on Friday mornings. I remember always being so excited to go to school on Fridays because I had Micro lab. And now, I’m happy to say the same about Biotech I. Last semester, I had the luxury of only having classes four days a week, which gave me a three-day weekend. Going to school for classes on Fridays doesn’t necessarily make up for the lack of a three-day weekend, but I’m happy to say that my Fridays are now for Biotech.