My day usually starts with cells. I am culturing dendritic cells, and they need to be passaged on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So when I get into lab, I meet with the Lucas, the graduate student I am working with, and we talk about the plan for the day, and then I usually passage my cells shortly after we meet. On Tuesday and Thursday I just take a look at my cells under the microscope to make sure they are still growing healthily. Then I launch into the other tasks of the day.
For the first couple weeks, a lot of what I was doing was learning procedures and finding my way around the lab. I would watch Lucas do a variety of tests and experiments, trying to absorb everything that was going on. I learned how to passage my cells, do ELISAs, stain histology slides, and more. I am now doing more and more on my own now, becoming more confident around the lab. What I do can vary a lot from day to day depending on where Lucas and I are with our experiments, but it all centers around the same main experiments. I split my cells either just to passage them or to prepare them for an experiment. If an experiment is coming up, I will do other prep work for the cell experiment, and if it’s the day of an experiment I will perform the experiment. I may cut lymph node tissues, stain the tissues, or look at the stained tissues under the microscope. And, if it is the day of a blood draw, I might do an ELISA.
One thing that is a constant every day, though, is that whenever I am not doing anything at the bench, I am reading. I have done a ton of reading in the last month and I have learned so much about immunology that I would have probably never learned any other way. I started off by reading the better part of an immunology textbook, and then moved on to reading articles about biomaterial vaccines and engineering the immune system. I have a whole folder of papers on my computer of papers to read, and am making my way through them one by one in my free time. So far, I am enjoying my time in the lab a lot and I am learning so much every single day.