A Whole New World (of microglia, imaging, and research)

A year ago, I had no idea what doing “research” meant. The idea, concept, and process always seemed incredibly abstract and foreign, the word eluding to images of sterile rooms filled with people wearing white lab coats seriously tinkering with mysterious liquids in shiny tall beakers. While this vision may seem to hold true upon quick glance at a research lab, stepping into the world of research and joining a research team has been a stark contrast to my previous stereotyped belief of what research is. While lab benches are filled with rows of various liquids and solutions yet unknown to me, the Bilbo/ Eroglu team which I have been working with is filled with approachable, kind, and funny people. One of my hopes for these next few summer weeks is to become integrated into the lab dynamic, gain greater independence, and be viewed as a worthwhile contributor to the project.

Speaking of the project I’ll be working on, for the next two months I’ll be spending my time characterizing the normal developmental pattern of excitatory synapse formation in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain, and working towards assessing if and how prenatal exposure to combined stressors alters this development. What this means is I’ll be staining brain tissue obtained from developing mice to be able to image using a confocal microscope then performing image reconstructions to allow for quantification of synapses over various time periods. Plainly said: mark up, image, enhance, then count. So, this week I have been getting familiar with the necessary techniques, machines, and softwares – getting as up to speed as I can. It’s really exciting to think about the novelty of this work, and to think that my data could describe something which has never before been known.

Dipping my feet into work which those who I’m joining in the lab have been studying for years continues to be daunting – it took me nearly the whole first week to really understand the questions I’d be attempting to answer – but I hope that over time I’ll be able to speak confidently about all things brain tissue, microglia, and imaging. I hope to obtain meaningful data, and decipher what the value of doing research will mean, to me.

I’m looking forward to whatever hits in these next few weeks. Welcome to the blog!

Me with one of Dr. G’s (non-venomous, and un-named) snakes!

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