Friday, July 25, 2014

Second Friday

It was Friday today and it is always exciting for me to see how happy I get. I woke up this morning earlier than I have all week so I took my time getting ready and I made my way down to breakfast. I was joined by Alexa, Vicky and some of our other friends. I finished eating first so I said goodbye to everybody and I started walking to class.

In class we had to give presentations on corporate-NGO partnerships. The partnership that I did my presentation on was Pampers and UNICEF. They teamed up in 2006, started the campaign '1 pack = 1 vaccine' and for a limited time, Pampers would donate one maternal neonatal tetanus vaccine for every pack of diapers sold with a special marking on it. The partnership has been really successful and since they started and they have helped to completely eliminate the disease in 14 countries. I took some of the criticism that I've been getting from the last few presentations and I tried to cover as many areas as I could have. After I gave my presentation, I asked her what I could do better next time and she told me that I should try and say 'like' a lot less and that I did everything else OK, I just need to work on my delivery. 

All of the presentations took us right up to lunch so she let us get our break. What I noticed was that this was the first week that we didn't have any lunch assignments to do. After our break, we had our afternoon lecture on green washing and green messaging. The whole message of the lecture was that some companies are either lying, vague, or unnecessary with the type of "green" labeling they do. My professor also showed us different websites that we could visit to check if the claims that these companies are making are true. We watched a documentary after the lecture called Blue Gold: World Water Wars. This document shows the water issues that humanity is facing and how critical it is. We are taken all over the world from the floods and droughts in Bangladesh, to dam building in India, and to the unnatural water patterns in the Americas.

We were let our of class once the movie was over. I did the same thing I did last Friday which was take a nap when I got back to my dorm room but this time, Alexa was with me. We got dinner after we woke up and once we were done eating, I went back and forth from sleeping, reading, and listening to music. After I signed in for curfew, I went with my cohort to find an empty lounge and we ended our night playing card games. 

Biotech Class Joining Contagion

At breakfast I sat with Oyin, Alexa, Dani, and Jimmy. I ate eggs and French toast. After breakfast we walked to class and as usual we departed to our separate ways. In class we did a lecture first and I learned more about HIV. I learned that some immune cells act as sentinels and are dispersed at various points throughout the periphery and others (T-cells) wait for  information, brought by the sentinels, at a specific organs that act as battlefields. I also learned about elite controllers. Elite controllers are people that are infected but never develop diseases. They have been associated with specific HLA alleles. The specific allele might force HIV to mutate toward a "handicapped" variant.

 In the lab I mutated the amino acid in my rifampicin resistant mutants. As I mutate the bond it changes from Leucine 1238 to Leucine 413. My amino acid didn't bond with rifampicin because the steric hindrance changes shape and it doesn't allow the rifampicin to bond with it. We recorded the hydrogen bonds that bonded with the rifampicin and if the Rotamers were direct or indirect with the rifampicin. I went to lunch a little late and got to the dining hall at 12:20 PM. I had turkey and dressing with gravy. It felt like Thanksgiving at the dining hall for me almost.

 I left the dining hall at 1:00 PM because I didn't have class until 1:15 PM. For the second part of the day we joined classes with Biotech for an hour doing a fun game to see who got infected and who infected us. We put some gloves on and had numbers on our lab coats so that we could record the people we came in contact with. We put invisible powder on our gloves and then they started the music and we started walking and dancing around the lab until they stopped the music. Then when we stopped we had to shake hands with whoever was next to us and then put their number down on a packet they gave us before we started. Then they started the music three more times and repeated the process. Then at the end we would see who was sick, who was a little sick, and who wasn't sick. A lot of people were very sick. Next we recorded who got sick and who we came in contact with on the chalkboard. Then we figured out who got us sick by looking to see which number we came in contact the most. That was the most interesting part of the class.

When I got back to the dorms I went to my room and slept until 6:00 PM and then went to dinner. At dinner I sat with the Chicago Family again and I ate chicken nuggets and fries. Then Oyin and I went to Alexa's room to hang out. After that we went to the west lounge and I started working on my project and tomorrow I will be doing a lab report paper. We ended the night with playing cards and hanging out in the Halperin House.

All about Microbes

My Biotech classmates and I went into class today curious about how our first day with Dr. Schonbaum as our professor would be. Thirty minutes into the class period, I decided I liked him as our lecturer/professor. He makes topics easier to understand than Dr. Bhasin did. Like Dr. Bhasin, he also goes on tangents, though he quickly reverts back to the original topic/discussion. One of the first things he had our class do was work into groups and share something cool about bacteria. Among the things we discussed (such as how bacteria comprise 50% of Earth’s living matter and how they can withstand high pressure), I found tardigrades, bacteria that are able to withstand very cold temperatures (temperatures nearing absolute zero), and how Geobacter sulfurreducens can directly grow on an electrode and take electrons directly from that electrode two of the most interesting topics.

Dr. Schonbaum also told us about different kinds of archaea: halophiles (they can withstand salty environments), thermophiles (withstand hot temperatures), and psychrophiles (which can withstand cold temperatures. We talked about using microbes (plasmids) as tools for cloning or recombinant DNA technology, as well as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a bacterial defense system used for gene editing in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Dr. Schonbaum told us how CRISPR both removes and replaces viral DNA. An example of that is how CRISPR removes and replaces valine back to GLU.

We talked about yeast, microbial enzymes, and food products that are created in fermentation—sourdough, yogurt, kimchi, cheeses, beer, and more. He promised to bring some cheeses (stinky ones that contain brevibacterium linens, which are also found on feet) to the trip our class will take on August 1st by the lake. We took a short break, then discussed antibiotics, biofilms, and how scientists are already starting to sequence microbial genomes by starting the Human Microbiome Project.
"Micro cheeses"--made in vitro

I feel that though Dr. Bhasin is a really talented professor, Dr. Schonbaum’s way of teaching is a bit easier to understand and follow. He sticks more to the slides instead of providing too many examples/details that make it difficult to follow along. After encouraging group work and asking us to anonymously tell him our interests in biotechnology (on slips of paper), I could tell he values interaction and wants to teach in a way geared more towards our goals and interests. Also, he checked to see if we were finished copying down slides before moving on! I appreciate that.

The study room
The class moved on to discussing the books we’ll use for our book reports (I’m doing Stem Cells and Cloning), then dismissed for lunch. I grabbed lunch at the Dining Commons (macaroni and cheese, salad, chicken skewers, and tea) and headed to the Crerar library to research and write about our topics. Four other girls and I ended up having to retrieve our laptops from the dorm (students from another program had the computer lounge reserved). We laughed over funny school stories and things that happened in various labs. Once at the Crerar with our laptops, we stayed in a study lounge (one without computers) and researched.

At 4 PM I went to the gym with Alexa and worked out for the first time! I went on the elliptical, stretched, and lifted weights until going straight to the Dining Commons for dinner at 5:30 PM. Though in California I was never one to go to the gym, working out is actually enjoyable here. I guess new environments lead to new interests.