We are currently in our fourth week of research here at the McDaniel Dicty Lab. Dr. Parrish, Kirsten Bickford, and I (Catherine O’Keeffe) are studying the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, also known as a slime mold. We are interested in looking at two particular genes that code for possible mRNA decapping enzymes. We started this project at the very beginning, which means had had to grow the amoeba cells from stocks. Since our first days in late May we have been growing and passing cells. Luckily, the cells have been healthy and we only had one unfortunate case of fungal contamination. We have been mastering many molecular techniques such as DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, ligation, and transformation.
One thing that surprised me about working here is the amount of independence we have. Before this summer, I was not too confident in my lab skills. However, now I am much more self-assured and feel motivated to work on my own initiative. One of my favorite things to do is troubleshoot (even though this means that something went wrong). Though we are just undergraduate students, Dr. Parrish asks us what we think needs to be changed and has us research to figure out how to fix the experiment. We look at the protocols, search online, and talk together to figure out a solution.
Working in the lab is also a lot of fun! We listen to music, have glar dates together, and joke around. Enjoy these pictures: