Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Lab Partner's Talents

One of the best parts of my semester has been my lab partner, Ons. Throughout our 20.109 experience, we have caught ourselves doing things for class that would seem totally crazy in any other context. In the process, we have found out that she has some really unique talents. For your entertainment and amazement, here is a compilation of her most memorable ones:

1-Reading DNA
While designing primers for improved Influenza detection during Module 1, Ons and I were checking that we both had the same forward and reverse primer sequences.  We were sitting in one of the couches in a public space in the Infinite, loudly reciting strings of As Ts Gs and Cs. Everyone must have thought that we were crazy, but Ons was honestly quite good at it.
2- Writing labels
I have really horrible, chicken-scratch handwriting. We found out early on in the semester that Ons should do all of the labeling for our team’s experiments. And whenever I have attempted to take over this task, she gives me the same look that my mom does when I try to cook and almost burn down the kitchen.  
Image result for bad handwriting
My handwriting is marginally better than this 

3- Doctor Blading
When making our dye-sensitized solar cells for Mod 3, our team was supposed to use a blade to gently doctor blade a uniform layer of our paste onto the solar cell. This paste was made of TiO2 mineralized gold:phage complexes, ground with a binder and an organic solvent.
We first practiced this procedure with some glue on a microscope slide.  Of course, when I tried doing it, it looked something like this:

Thankfully, my lab-partner extraordinaire turned out to be a pro at this. Unfortunately, our team’s paste had a relatively high gold content and it was therefore diluted differently than the other groups’. The consistency of the resulting paste made it difficult to spread it evenly across, and so our solar cell ended up having a lot of imperfections and looking something like cheese:

Our resulting device only had a 0.2% efficiency for converting light from the “solar simulator” to electrical energy. But it was still functional!

4-Using an old-school pipet bulb
On the first day of class, we ran through some basic lab techniques. We had to pipet some amount of water, which I thought would be an easy task, and then we were faced with this piece of cutting-edge MIT technology:


I was totally daunted by this task, but apparently that contraption was used in Ons’s school. So she led our team to successful protocol completion and eternal glory. 

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