It’s not a phase, Mom. This is who I really am.

Mother, you’ve always wanted me to become a doctor. Sorry to say it, but I kind of sort of like lab life.

I can imagine your expression right now:

new meme. disappointed mom

And while I’ve got your attention to the lab, let me tell you more about my average day in detail so maybe you’ll see why I love what I do.


I like to plan everything around my meals, so my schedule will be laid out that way.Almost every morning, I’ll wake up at 6:30 to go on a run or go to the gym with my friend John Franklin.

Here’s a sweaty photo of us after a 5 mile run.

After this, we usually have a seminar or workshop scheduled through the program from 9-10:15.


After I get out of seminar/workshop and have my breakfast, I’ll head to the lab. My experiment is pretty time sensitive since I have to do screenings at a certain hour post-fertilization (hpf) of the zebrafish embryos. If I’m in the middle of an experiment, I’ll usually screen my embryos right as I get in as this marks the next 24 hpf.

Middle of an experiment
During screening, I take all of my petri dishes and look at them under the microscope. I record how many are alive, dead, have pericardial edema, yolk sac edema, bent notochord, and notes for other observations.
The screening takes about an hour and a half to two hours.

Starting an experiment
If I’m about to start an experiment, I set up breeding colonies the night before and flip the breeders and collect eggs in the morning. Then I have to wait for 6 hpf to start the dosing.
In the meantime, I’ll make some solutions for the dosing. To do this, I do a lot of math and then pipette a lot of liquids into scintillation vials to create my solutions.

Wow my favorite time of the day has arrived!


Middle of experiment
My project doesn’t require a lot of tasks, just a lot of time and waiting. After lunch, I’ll usually analyze some of the data I collected from the screening or run an assay if I’m finishing the experiment.
Assays take a lot of time and are tedious. It requires transferring embryos one by one without collecting any liquid into a well plate. Then, micropipetting solutions into the wells and run an assay. It doesn’t sound bad, but transferring embryos is hard work.

Starting an experiment
Around 3-4 pm marks 6 hpf, the time I’ll start my dosing.
I do a preliminary screen to make sure that the embryos are fertilized and healthy, and then I transfer embryos into petri dishes without collection water (again, this is tedious).
After I do that for over 200 embryos, I pour in the chemical and then I’m done for the day.

Other stuff
After I finish my experiment or have time in between stuff I have to do, I usually help others with their experiments. Most of this is running assays or doing dissections.

I usually get out of lab around 4:30, and everyday I’ll do something fun. Some things I’ll do are go to Eno River, Jordan Lake, or walk into Durham. I’ll usually do this with John Franklin and my roommate Martín.

Wow my other favorite time of day has arrived!

After dinner, I’ll usually just hang out with my friends, watch some movies, or catch up on some personal work.

It’s amazing how after I step out of the lab, I don’t have to worry about anything. During the school year, the evenings are usually the busiest. Meetings and studying take up all of my time, and now I have so much time to do things I want to do.
So Mom, this is who I want am. Sorry.