Wednesday, May 13, 2015

in which I am confused

The last module!!! At last!!!!!! So close to being done.

For the previous two modules, I already had some experience with the techniques used because I had done work with DNA and cell culture before. I was especially excited to start this module because I had very little exposure to biomaterials and using phage in this way. Using bacteriophage as a biotemplate to make gold nanoparticle-TiO2 nanocomposites to increase efficiency of a dye-sensitized solar cell? Hearing this description immediately makes me think, ahh this is what bioengineering truly is; it really has the wow factor. Because the actual lab portion was more supplementary to the main module assignment of developing a novel project proposal, the lab work seemed a lot more chill and more about learning new techniques and seeing how our solar cells turned out. 

However, a variety of factors resulted in me not really knowing what was going on during the lab, and I don't think I really understood what was happening in the experiments until I tried to write up the mini-report. For one, I wasn't really familiar with any of the techniques beforehand or any of the theory behind them, unlike the other protein and DNA work. Also, our group happened to be one of last groups to begin one of the day's experiments of coating the AuNP:phage with titania. I was unfortunately not dedicated enough to stay past 7pm to babysit our solutions, so thankfully, Cherry finished the procedure for us. While I read through the protocol once, I definitely would have had a better idea of what was going on if I actually had to do it myself. There were also several more moments of confusion, like when a pre-lab said something that directly contradicted what Dr. Belcher stated in lecture the day before (ie. calculating fill factor) or when the pre-lab slide had a mistake in an equation.

This was one of the funnest modules (maybe just because the main assignment was significantly more bearable); however, I think it could benefit from being restructured. I think the main problem was that the class facility couldn't really handle the number of people trying to do experiments. Having to wait more than three hours to even start the day's experiments is excessive. The day where we went to the TEM facility to just watch someone else take pictures of our sample for us was interesting to see once or twice, but ultimately seemed like an inefficient use of time. I really liked the TAs because they were super nice and funny, but they also didn't really know what they were doing either sometimes (the T/R class would be the first time they ever performed some technique), and so it would be nice if the teaching staff was more coordinated and on the same page. 

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