I’m now beginning to get quite busy in the lab now that I’ve started working with some of the more complex processes that will lead up to cloning and our goal of transgenic diatoms (a type of phytoplankton). Last week my days were mostly free with one hour spent each day taking small samples from 3 flasks filled with algae that we were culturing and then counting cells under a microscope so that I could create a growth curve of the data and find out how much algae we would have to experiment on. I’ve done this for nine days already and the procedure is now very simple to me. Labs here are definitely different from labs in the United States and it took some adjusting at the beginning to the different methods employed here. For example, when I’m working in a sterilized area I wash my hands with 70% ethanol instead of wearing plastic gloves.
Starting this past Tuesday I started working with some more complex techniques and since then my work has moved on to working with DNA strains, running PCR machines, running gels, and right now my DNA sample is being digested back at the lab. My professor is very nice and is telling me about all of the steps before I do them. He is also helping me calculate the amounts of each solution I should use so that in the coming weeks I will be able to do these procedures without any help. This has kept me quite busy and now I only have free time during the day when I’m getting lunch or waiting for an instrument finish running.