As a recently declared neuroscience major, my experience with the neuro department is pretty limited. While I’ve known for some time that all things concerning the brain are my primary interest, it’s always been over a pretty broad scope. Throughout this week, it’s been completely the opposite. I’m working in the Bilbo lab and it focuses on all things microglia. For those that don’t know microglia are the resident immune cells of the brain, but they do so much more. A lot of the research in the lab, in very simplistic terms, involves messing with microglia in some way and seeing the outcomes. That brings me to the experiment I’ve been helping with this week.
I’m working with mice and as someone who did not even grow up with pets, it was a bit of a shock the first day. But over two days, I’ve learned quite a few interesting things about them. Fun fact: mice can’t see red light, so whenever we work with them in the dark, we wear headlamps that shine red light. Speaking of the dark, a big part of the experiment is giving mice alcohol when the lights are off. I don’t exactly understand all of the scientific reasoning, but there is a really interesting relationship between alcohol (causes an inflammatory response) and microglia, so I’m excited to keep working on this project throughout the summer and to hopefully analyze some data.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about how working in research feels for the first time. As someone who was usually stressed during chemistry lab, I thought I would have a similar feeling when engaging in research. But I am happy to say that this has been an incredibly positive experience so far. Everyone I have interacted with in the lab has been super encouraging and responsive to the questions I have. I already feel like I’ve learned a lot, not only about microglia but how to be a better scientist so I’m looking forward to how much I know by the end of this program.