Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday In a Nutshell

To continue my recap of the past few days, Thursday was less eventful, but interesting nonetheless.

After leaving our DNA to incubate for 24 hours, I was itching to continue the lab. We did all of that today, plus lab 12. First we followed the procedure for purifying the DNA, then for its precipitation by adding ethanol. DNA becomes visible pretty quickly in ethanol because of its properties, so my heart skipped a beat when I thought it wasn’t going to appear, and that all my effort had been to waste. I breathed a huge sigh of relief watching the small, white, wispy strands of my genetic molecule float up to the top of the solution—also meaning that it wasn’t contaminated with protein!

Finally completing the purification process, we ran a small sample of our DNA through a spectrophotometer to test its concentration (purity), obtaining a 260/280 ratio. This is the ratio of DNA to any protein remaining in the sample. Any ratio above 1.6 means the DNA is pure enough to be used in the lab (cut by restriction enzymes, etc.). I'm happy to report that my sample came through with a ratio of over 1.9.
Jody emphasized the powerful asset of knowing how to purify DNA for someone to work in a lab. I’m really glad that I’m have this chance to get used to the flow of working in a bio lab and learning a lot of necessary skills for being in a laboratory environment. I can really see myself doing scientific research in a lab in the future, and it’s something that I want to pursue. What strikes me about our school district is that we don’t really help students prepare for working in an actual lab. I know that when I first came I was confused. Of course, with these new-found privileges comes responsibility. In that way, we are seen and treated as adults here, something that would probably never happen back home. At my high school, we always waited on the teacher to give instructions and guide us through every step, but here, we work at our own paces and make our own judgment calls. Of course, I make many blunders along the way, but it is all part of the learning process. Maybe there’s some way to bring back these crucial skills I’ve learned to the students at my school…

Afterwards, I spent most of the rest of the day studying the class's central paper on epigenetics to prepare for the next day's discussion.

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