Last Friday was the last day for Kirsten and Catherine in the Dicty lab at McDaniel College. Although the summer was extremely busy for all three of us, I was still extremely sad to say goodbye to these bright and talented young ladies. As I sit in my office today, I miss hearing their giggles from my lab next-door, listening to their entertaining stories, and watching them grow as young scientists. I think this means that I am in the right profession!
I referred to Catherine and Kirsten as my “miracle workers” this summer. They were extremely successful with their experiments and accomplished more than I even anticipated. I will let them tell you about their exciting results in their own blog posts coming soon. However, to understand how much work they accomplished, here is a sampling of some of the techniques they mastered this summer: Dicty cell propagation (both on media and bacteria), Dicty development, Dicty genomic DNA extraction, the polymerase chain reaction, agarose gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme digestion, ligation, bacterial transformation and selection, plasmid purification, Dicty transformation and selection, Dicty RNA extraction, Northern blotting, and autoradiography. Perhaps most impressive of all, they learned how to do science, including how to plan experiments, perform the proper controls, and interpret their results. They plan on presenting their work at a conference in the fall and this research will also be the focus of their senior capstone poster and paper next spring.
I want to leave by saying that everyone always says that the young have much to learn from the “old”. While this is certainly true, I continue to learn so much from my students. They remind me not to take myself so seriously and that humor can be found in the every day experience; I just have to change my frame of reference. For example, while exiting the darkroom, the three of us became trapped in the dark room revolving door, basically a small enclosed tube that is in complete darkness. After several harrowing minutes of being trapped, we finally managed to get out of the door. My students stayed much more calm than me, and our perilous situation became the running joke of the week because of their light-hearted way of seeing the situation. The door, post-incident:
Another example of their refreshing attitude related to our experience with a temperamental autoclave (basically a big pressure cooker) that we use to sterilize media and equipment. On the last day, Kirsten and Catherine gave me a hot glove for taking hot items out of the autoclave. On it they had written “ Autoclave Survivors 2012” “Living in Peril to Keep Things Sterile”. (Don’t worry; we weren’t really in danger from the autoclave!)
I also received as gift a CD that had a picture of our shaking incubator as the cover. All of the songs on the CD have the word “Shake” in the lyrics. The gift bag also had a picture of Catherine and Kirsten embracing the autoclave. How did I get so lucky to have such creative, kind, and bright students?
Our final day and a visit to “The Cow” for a frozen treat.