Thursday, June 21, 2012

Taking Initiative

Being another lab day, we were subject to wearing laboratory attire: long pants and closed-toe shoes in the blazing hot weather, but as soon as I entered the air-conditioned Bio-Med building, all of it became obsolete and I focused on the day ahead of me. As I mentioned yesterday, today in the lab we worked with restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis. Restriction enzymes recognize and cut specific areas of DNA. Basically, gel electrophoresis uses an electric current to separate mixtures of the DNA, which shows up as different “bands” on the gel. This process is used in a wide range of applications, from finding damaged genes and genetic diseases to tracing paternity lines to examining tissue samples found at crime sites.

The lab bench

My gel soaking up the rays
At the end of today’s session, we used UV light to highlight and take pictures of the DNA in the gels. Then we compared the results we got to those in the book, which held pictures of the ideal results of the lab, as well as various different scenarios of what could’ve gone wrong. This really made us go back and reflect about the process itself, what each component in the lab was meant for, and what to keep in mind the next time. Today’s lab however, is only in anticipation for tomorrow, when we will use the concepts we’ve gained in the last few days to explore a more complex one: DNA methylation.

Instead of going to the V-Dubb for lunch, Taylor, Kelly, and I decided to try the high-praised Korean BBQ truck that we’ve passed by so many times, and it turned out to be delicious. After finishing, we settled down in the second floor of the bookstore and strapped ourselves in for the next four hours in order to get homework done and study. Overall, it was productive and worked out well, and the time flew by--I even managed to get a short nap in before it was time to go for dinner. I think that I probably wouldn’t have been able to work as efficiently on my own.

Korean Beef Galbi and Kimchi Dumplings
Our class took the initiative today by scheduling a study group at 7:30 PM. Everyone was freaking out about tomorrow’s quiz, and our goal was to make sure we were on the same page in preparing for it. When we told Jody about our plans beforehand, she seemed surprised but at the same time pleased. After we found an abandoned meeting room in one of the upper floors of the Rockefeller Library, we proceeded to set up a student-run seminar, complete with our own PowerPoint presentation to review. It was very open, cooperative, and stimulating discussion in which we were able to put all of our concerns out there and compile notes that we thought were critical from our past few days. At one point we were even on online chat with our TA Colby, whom we bombarded with questions.Through this teamwork, I think we were able to bond pretty well. There’s a feeling you get when around students that, have the same goals and drive to excel. It pushes and motivates you even more, and that’s exactly how I feel about my class.

I topped off the evening by heading down to Salomon Hall with my floormate, Aaron and his friends to watch the NBA finals game on the big screen (we have no TV in any of our dorms).  Although I don’t follow basketball much, the charged and energetic atmosphere coming from crowds of people made for an exciting and entertaining evening.
Salomon Hall--the OKC/Heat game!

I look forward to what the next day holds, despite the forecast for a thunderstorm amid 90 degree weather!

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