Tuesday, July 15, 2014

GFP Transgenic Tobacco Plants and Gram Staining

After yesterday’s challenging start of class, I steeled myself for anything today. I’m glad to say, however, that today was a much better day.

We started the day off with discussions (or what I like to call “updates”) of the biotechnology world. Amber talked about the early deaths of mosquitoes in Brazil to fight dengue fever, which I’ll leave a link to here (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-11/to-fight-dengue-fever-brazil-turns-to-genetically-modified-mosquitoes). We discussed the benefits (lower rates of death due to dengue fever) as well as the possible effects this development might have in Brazil.

Our lecture, as usual, was very in-depth. Dr. Bhasin really has a knack for condensing a week long lecture into less than 2 hours. Yesterday our lecture was an intro to biotechnology and review of cell structure, while today’s lecture was about DNA structure and replication. Most of the things she said are familiar, but she went way more in-depth than my school ever has. I talked to other students in the class and noticed a pattern--if you've taken AP Biology or Honors Biology, you're familiar with what Dr. Bhasin lectures, though it is still challenging. If you haven't taken AP Biology or a higher level biology class, then you're most likely being filled with new information each time Dr. Bhasin speaks.  

Before our lunch break, we also did a quick lab quiz on the lab protocol we had to read last night before doing the lab itself (which was about fluorescent microscopy of GFP transgenic tobacco plants and stained Ptk cells).
GFP tobacco plant. DISCLAIMER: This picture isn't mine. We didn't have much time to take pictures in there. This is, however, what we saw.

In my lab gear.
The lab quiz was okay. Our TAs, Cierra and Danny, told us to be ready for very general questions about the lab protocol, but the questions were harder than anyone expected. However, I think I did fine on it. I’m actually glad we had it, because a., now I know what to expect on the other quizzes, and b., reading the lab protocol definitely helped me do well on our lab! I found the lab fun and interesting, and actually knew what I was doing because I’d read the lab beforehand! Also, the questions that were most likely incorrect are now permanently etched in my memory, so not being sure about those helped too.

The lab was so fun! We were able to take a tobacco plant, shave a part of it off ourselves, prep the slide, and observe it under the microscope. Since there were two kinds of tobacco plants, we were able to compare the structure of the two. I love how the lab was set up—everyone was doing something different, so everyone shared their findings and worked together to finish our lab write-ups. Labs are certainly a good way for a class to bond.

I was definitely tired afterwards, so I’m glad we had lunch next. As usual, I had lunch at the Dining Commons (where I met more new people). We headed back to class (which is about a 15-minute walk) and grabbed some frozen yogurt at the Red Mango in the biology building.
Red Mango fro-yo

Class started with another lab—Gram staining. I found it extremely interesting. Again, since I’d read the lab protocol the night before, I actually knew what I was doing. April (my lab partner) and I prepped the slide (we smeared bacteria on a slide, let it dry, and passed the slide over a burner to dry the cells to the slide, which prevents the cells from washing away during staining). We then dripped violet dye, Gram’s iodine solution, alcohol-acetone (to decolorize), and safranin (to counterstain the bacteria) on the slide. All of this was to see if the bacteria we had was Gram positive or Gram negative and to see what kind it was (Gram positive/Gram negative bacillus/coccus, etc.). Ours was Gram positive staphylococcus.

April and I left lab tired, but happy. We were able to do the labs today, and they were actually fun!

After an hour long nap after lab (best nap I’ve ever taken), I went to dinner at the Dining Commons with Kaitlyn, April, and Oyin. About five hours, eight pages of reading material, a lab protocol, multiple study breaks involving socializing, personality tests, and laughing, here I am in my dorm finishing my blog, almost done for the day.
Our favorite place to study on the Fifth Floor.

I’m glad class was much better today. It’s still stressful and challenging, but at the same time it’s fun to have hands-on lab experiments and the chance to meet new people every day.

1 comment:

  1. Labs sound pretty exciting and educational. I'm glad you are enjoying it although I am sure it is challenging - keep up the hard work!