10:30 – 12:30: Say hello to the lab and the lab dogs. Pipette 10µl of one sample of solid phase extract into two tubes. Repeat ~170 times for a great thumb workout. Our challenge every day is to get a coefficient of variance below 15% between each pair of tubes, which is harder some days than others. The extract we pipette out comes from a process called Solid Phase Extraction (SPE), which we did earlier this summer. The product of SPE is a purified liquid which contains hormones from the original fecal sample and methanol. Pipetting this liquid usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours, meaning I get to chat with the other undergrads in the lab! After pipetting out the samples, I dry them in the dryer under the hood which blows compressed air into the tubes, evaporating out the methanol and leaving only the dried sample. I then add the next necessary components for the radioimmunoassay (a set of standard/control tubes, buffer, tracer, and an antibody) and let the reaction (explained in my last blog post) go for two hours. While this process may sound tedious, my lab partner, Ariel, and I have said that we feel like “actual scientists” by doing this work. Mixing different colored components of the radioimmunoassays is also more entertaining than I’d like to admit! Having a great lab who gets along well also helps, and we can be frequently overheard chatting for these two hours.
12:30-2:30: Grab lunch from West Union, pet the lab dogs (pictured below), label the set of tubes for tomorrow, and help out around the lab.
2:30-? : Add the second antibody needed for radioimmunoassays, vortex, and place in centrifuge. Clean up the bench, put materials away, and get ready to start again tomorrow. Pet lab dogs again for good measure. (Note: The dogs do not come into the actual wet lab, Ariel will take over from there and aspirate out the supernatant from both my set and her set of tubes. The precipitate left over gets placed into a gamma counter and is read over-night.