My core expectation for the summer is to gain a general perspective of how research is conducted. In addition, I would like to at least be exposed to some of the basic experiments and techniques used in molecular biology and possibly master these skills by the end of July. I’m currently working with members of Dr. John D. Perfect’s lab. In general, the lab focuses on various strains of Cryptoccocal neoformans but has several projects taking place simultaneaously. However, the project I’m working on pertains to a transcription factor, BZP4, in C. neoformans that may be associated with the expression of melanin, which is affects a fungu’s extent of virulence.
Over this past week, I feel that the lab has and will exceed my expectations for the summer. On day 1, I was being trained to perform gel electrophoresis and patch plates with transformed E.coli. By the end of last week I had been taught to innoculate fungi, perform PCR, precipitate DNA from PCR, clone DNA, conduct biolistic transformation and prepare media for plates. My mentor, Dr. Jennifer Tenor, has taken the time to sit down with me to not only fully explain the project but the general construction of a research project. Such projects start with a question, individual research and then a plan of activities to answer the question. The Perfect lab is very organized and, in my opinion, a “perfect” example of a lab that efficiently contributes to science and medicine.
More importantly, I’ve learned how the social atmosphere affects the efficiency of a lab. Each person in the lab has a relationship and there is a general positive energy in the lab everyday. The lab is welcoming and people are almost always willing to help. Moreover, everyone has a technical/intellectual strength that they bring to the lab and that helps forces the project further. My hope now is that I’ll be able to develop such a strength from this summer and be able to carry it into the future.