Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lesson learned: Label Your Tubes

I remember sitting in 109 lecture on the first day of class when Professor Belcher presented an outline of the solar cell experiment which we would be doing in Module Three. Not only did Module Three seem like something in the distant future, but it seemed very complex. I remember turning to Joseph and saying something along the lines of, "This class sounds hard." Little did I know that Module Three would become my favorite module.

I really liked the solar cell project because it was very interdisciplinary. After doing a lot of DNA/protein work in previous modules I was ready to think about something different. The TEM imaging was something I had never seen/experienced before, so I enjoyed learning about a new piece of equipment in this module. Because this module was very different/complex, I felt as though most of the class was on an "even playing field" per say. Because I did not have experience with basic biology lab techniques like PCR/gel electrophoresis/western blot/sequencing, I felt behind the rest of the class in Modules 1 and 2. However, I think that the material we learned in Module 3 was relatively new to most people. Therefore, I felt more comfortable with the pace of Module 3 and the experiment as a whole.

I think that the competition of who could create the most efficient solar cell came down to partner teamwork and patience-- because nobody seemed to be particularly experienced in doctor blading or solar cell assembly. I guess Joseph and I made a good team then, because our solar cell recorded an efficiency of 2.88%. :) I think it is important to note that in the preliminary stages of Mod 3, our phage solution found its way into the large red biohazard waste bin. We ended up pulling out a clear unlabeled tube that seemed to be our phage solution, however this was a guess. Who knows what we pulled out of the trash, but it did its job. Maybe the mysterious clear liquid we took from the waste bin was not actually phage, and that was the key to our success. However, our TEM image showed a high level of nucleation-- so I think that proves we are good fishermen as well as engineers. In the future I will label every tube I ever use.

Overall, I enjoyed how Module 3 combined Course 20 and Course 3 into one experiment. The M13 phage interested Joseph and I so much that we investigated its other applications for our Grant Proposal Project!

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