Although I have a project plan, every day I go into the lab I have different tasks and responsibilities. I’ve learned lots of practical skills, like the full process of genotyping, from collecting the tissue to imaging the gels, as well as how to run a variety of behavioral tests. I start the day by sitting at my desk and reading through the various papers my mentor sends as well as other papers I search up about relevant procedures and protocols, such as the Cre-lox system. Once my mentor arrives I start on the day’s work, usually reporting back to her periodically throughout the day. I also attend the weekly lab meeting every Monday, during which each lab mentor presents the progress they made over the last week.
Next Monday, I will be conducting behavioral tests on my own, as well as completing genotyping on several cages of mice. The behavioral tests are crucial to my project, as we are studying the influence of the PD-1 protein on anxiety and depression, and so we will be spending around two weeks conducting them. Although the mice we are using in the tests were bred in lab and should be the genotype that they are labeled, my mentor explained the importance of double-checking each aspect of the experiment to catch any mistakes, so I will test the genotype of each mouse. As I work, I record the protocols I learn into my electronic notebook as well as other data I collect throughout the day.