There are Good Days, and There are Bad Days for Science

Hello everyone! For this week’s blog entry I’ll bring you through a day in my life working in the Bilbo/ Eroglu lab. My day begins with an 8am wake-up and a half hour of frantic pre-work preparations. Somehow during this time I manage to shower, dress, make breakfast, pack lunch and run out the door to catch the 8:30am Swift Express bus to West Campus. This bus is crucial. Missing the Swift Express means being late for the 9am start of the work day. 

Once in lab, I check in quickly with my mentor, a final year PhD student, Carina, about my daily schedule. Because most of my time is spent on software/ equipment owned through Duke’s Core Research facility (expensive and/ or large equipment which the University only owns a few of and are thus shared between all of the labs on campus) I am able to dictate my own daily schedule based upon availability of the Core machines. It is through this University program that I am able to image slices of brain tissue on a Zeiss 880 Confocal (which is super cool!), deconvolude these images (reduce background noise and make more clear) on a software called Huygens, and create 3D reconstructions of the microglia I image in software called Imaris. 

By 10am I am set up to use one of these softwares – Zen (used on the confocal microscope), Huygens, and Imaris which takes up most of my days, depending on what stage in analysis I am in. While I am grateful that the University has licenses to these programs which allow me to visualize microglia cells and synapses within the brain, it is incredible how much of my day is spend troubleshooting such expensive software. 

By noon, Imaris has probably crashed at least twice (see attached photo), and Huygens failed to process my images. While I troubleshoot or re-do lost work, I eat lunch, usually snacking throughout the day as opposed to taking a long break. I take “lunch” time to organize data which I’ve acquired, schedule more time on Duke Core Research machines, or chat with lab members. 

3:30pm: Coffee time!

You can usually find me in lab until around 6pm, after which I’m either too hungry to go on without proper dinner, or too annoyed at how long a particular program is taking to render my data. I trek home, catching the Swift Express back.

In the evening I gym, cook dinner, and watch some Netflix until I crash for the night, ready to do it all over again tomorrow!

Sometimes if I wish hard enough, it responds

Me with the scope!

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