“Does anyone else need eggs?” “Why is this not working?” “Should I use the other set of primers?” Questions, questions, and more questions. These are the phrases that indicate a lot of the things I am doing in lab. Performing experiments, analyzing results, then troubleshooting problems that occur.
My average day consists of me arriving to lab at 8AM to thaw solutions, start PCR reactions (since they take up to 2.5 hours to run), or check on experiments or embryos that were going or incubating overnight. After coming back from faculty talks or group meetings, I usually do the rest of my experiments which may include in situ hybridization experiments, gel electrophoresis and gel extractions to purify DNA, and drug treatments.
In situ hybridization experiments take 3 days and consist of washing embryos in a multitude of solutions. Gel electrophoresis requires me to run a gel to separate out DNA by size. Once that happens, I determine if the DNA is purified or not by checking the number of bands. If there are multiple bands, I need to purify the DNA through gel extraction and run the gel again until I end up with one single band. Drug treatments require more planning because of the timing. I usually spawn and fertilize eggs of a sea urchin and I will come in at different times (sometimes as late as midnight) to change the artificial sea water or put in a drug to inhibit signaling molecules. I would then have to fix the embryos and store them until I perform in situ hybridization experiments.
Aside from doing wet lab experiments, I also need to take and process images on a microscope and computer. This requires me to be in a dark room for a few hours and burn my eyes out looking at a screen. Luckily I am able to listen to music while doing so. Once I have the images, I need to process them so they become .jpg files.
Sometimes other things happen. For example, a pleasant surprise that happened this last Wednesday was that my mentor, Ray, baked cupcakes for my birthday.
All in all, my lab days are jam packed with experiments which I am super thankful for because of all the experience I am getting working first-hand on a research project. To end this weeks post, I want to highlight Dr. Grunwald’s prediction that we (research fellows) are slaves to our experiments. In my case, I have become a slave to my urchins.