There is not one “typical day” in the lab for me, which I like. By not knowing exactly what to expect for that particular day, the lab routine does not become monotonous. Although each day is different, there are a few things that can be strung together to describe a normal day in the lab.
For starters, there are the lab techniques and protocols that I follow routinely as part of my project. Pretty much every day, I check on the cells that I have been growing to see how much they’ve grown and if they need to be divided soon. If they are looking very confluent (filling the dish with little space between cells), I divide them and keep a portion of the cells to passage (to continue growing). For most of the rest of the day I do a western blot technique which is used to transfer proteins (which have been separated via gel electrophoresis) onto a membrane. While these might sound like boring protocols, I find it exciting to look at the cell culture dishes under the microscope and see the cells connected to each other, with what looks like outstretched arms holding hands. And going into the darkroom to develop film from the western blot keeps me alert, as I have to be extremely careful not to let any light seep into the film.
Aside from lab techniques, there are other lab activities that have become normal. Learning precise techniques and laughing at the same time with my secondary mentor, Kyoung-in, has made my days equally lighthearted and intensive. My PI, Dr Ferreira, adds to this atmosphere as he frequently walks around to talk to everyone at their respective lab benches, whether the conversation is about the World Cup or about how to improve my Chalk Talk.
Lastly, as a typical college student, it is important to note one last routine I have become accustomed to: on Fridays there is free food.