Thursday, 18 June 2009

In the lab

Towards the end of last week, I found myself thinking at one point, as I looked at a plastic container:
Is this radioactive? Should it be kept sterile? Should I be wearing gloves? Can I touch it? Should I be wearing a white coat or a blue coat? Do I need to take the lid off or should I keep it on? Should this be in a fume cupboard or aspirator hood? Are there live cells?

Hang on, IT'S MY LUNCH...
H said that was a good sign. I found it quite odd.

I've been doing more and more for myself, rather than watching H or being supervised by her. I haven't yet made any serious errors, although it's inevitable that I will. There are just so many things that can go wrong. On Monday my mistake was letting a solution that had been warmed to 37 degrees get cool without taking the stopper out. It was stuck fast - I had to warm the whole thing up again.

Not me with pipette in the Tissue Culture labYesterday I was going to do a whole time-course experiment by myself, which involved getting everything together and not forgetting anything, then mixing all the ingredients and stopping the progress immediately (the control) then after 1, 2, 3 and 4 hours. Then taking the resulting samples, running them on a chromatography (TLC) plate, take one of the resulting stripes and measure the radioactivity. Oh yes, and I needed to count the cells.

I got as far as preparing the samples for TLC, with a couple of small incidents along the way. I managed to splash methanol from the 0 hour onto the 4 hour cells, which didn't do them any good at all, but that turned out OK because I didn't have time to do the 4 hour bit because we didn't book the hood for long enough. H had done the counting cells last time and didn't write it down, so I improvised and it didn't work very well - my cells got a bit messy and I didn't get a count in the end.

So today I did the chromatography and then the radioactivity counting and my results plotted OK so that was good. So I'm going to be doing the whole thing all over again except only running for 2 hours instead of all the different time points, and with some different enzymes to see if they have an effect. And counting the cells properly, and being a bit more careful with the methanol.


aims said...


Amazing and fascinating Lola. I could get into that but the thought of that much schooling just makes me tired.

Brett said...

It sounds so complex

Lola said...

It really is complex, and it does make me tired, but it suits me too! Thank goodness we're all different!