This is a pretty important aspect of microbiology: necessary to avoid contamination, or cross contamination; good old observation of strict aseptic technique.
Now you don’t necessarily have to observe strict protocols or even adhere to ‘strict’ aseptic technique, but if you are advised to work around a bunsen, flame tweezers before use, flame lids and keep tip boxes closed between use, then you’ll probably avoid most contamination risks. Well if you don’t listen, this is what you end up with..
I’m pretty laid back about working habits and don’t get contamination, but I’m also impressed that it’s even possible to get this much contamination.. Oh well, positivity..that’s what they say right?!
And so the practical SSC for undergraduate medics started and finished this week. Such a lovely group of students – very knowledgable, inquisitive and what I think was genuinely interested in oral microbiology!
The adherence assay is not a particularly challenging experiment to do, but for those that have no lab experience, it can still be quite exciting. The intro lecture was pretty good too – covered quite a lot of background, and hopefully passed on some knowledge and expertise of my own. Now they have a presentation of their own to think about and prepare for..
Final preparations are underway for OMIG which starts this Wednesday! Presentation is 95% finished, awaiting supervisors final input and then think about packing and the trip up :).
They say s PhD journey is 10% intelligence and 90% persistence and perseverance, and to be honest, I’m very lucky to have the project and supervision that I do. However, I would liked to have had this the other way around – not being able to get things to work in the first year, only to then generate a ton of data in the following years. It’s also times like these that the ‘imposter syndrome’ begins to rear its ugly head; why am I here when I can’t get s simple experiment to do what it should?! Why is cell biology such that cell lines appear to change in behaviour the more they’re passaged..that’s the whole point of an immortal cell line, it’s consistent! And thinking about it, it’s been consistent in my case but not the way it should be! Oh well, n=3 so whatever is, is.
On the positives, medic students are joining me next week for a dabble in the tiny world of microorganism and adherence,.going to be good fun and they’re really looking forward to it which is always nice :).
Preparation for OMIG well and truly underway too, car hire being sorted, presentations being written, posters being designed..and lots (and lots!) of lab work to boot! Looking forward to catching up with friends over a few drinks (soft, of course) 😉
So the plan for the past few days was to keep my cells growing (enough to use them soon if they grow quick enough!), do a bit of monocyte work and set up and maintain biofilms.. and it has once again proved to be a somewhat challenging but rewarding week at that.
Cells have established themselves very well indeed, and I’ve managed to grow enough to have two sets of freezer stocks, and two flasks actively growing, and the keratinocytes are doing pretty well too 🙂 (albeit significantly slower growing than the fibs!). Monocyte work didn’t really go to plan..as ever..but still, learning how, and having the confidence to use the flow cytometer on my own is somewhat an achievement as far as I’m concerned – a mere microbiologist using some fancy tech haha! Still haven’t got the result I was hoping for, but it seems as though it is getting close to being statistically significant in it’s own right..so watch this space!
Back to the biofilm work that I’ve missed for some time while developing my ‘skills’ in tissue culture.. I fixed some for later (CLSM) and took some for RNA extraction, using the same method, but pooled three biofilms together..and managed to get more than 10x as much RNA yield!! Purity is amazing..but yield is just incredible. Considering for the past 2 years I’ve been getting yields of 40-80 ng/ul, to get 500 as the lowest is a pretty good achievement!! Fingers crossed for the next lot of batches too! I’ll have more DNA than I know what to do with 😀 (at least now I can do some proper qPCR optimising too..primer checks and all that jazz with consistent samples of DNA). Super chuffed to say the least!
Next week is the last before preparations for OMIG begin (9th-11th March, Gregynog (so excited)), and I have medic students with me Monday pm and Wed (am), Thursday and Friday all day..should be fun (I think!). Anyway, today is Thursday which means Friday tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to spending a lovely day with my two boys at the museum, Ruben is really looking forward to seeing the dinosaurs, and Oliver will be too I’m sure if he knew what was going on! Fun times ahead 😀
Whats happened since?
– I attended OMIG at Gregynog, which was my first conference. I presented a poster and won the poster prize! #Win
– I completed the MEDIC SSC project with grate success
– I attended the MITReG Conference in Cardiff and won second prize for my poster
– I passed my first year progress monitoring with no problems 😀
– A paper on which I was second author was published int he journal Biofouling. It encompasses my first years work and having spent an amazing year working with Yuri Cavalcanti, we managed to get this done.
– I went to Boston, MA, USA for the IADR conference and was accepted for an oral presentation
– I had another son – Oliver!
– I passed my second year progress monitoring with no problems
– I attended 3 conferences in 3 weeks; BSODR, Cardiff (oral presentation;) CITER, Bristol (oral) awarded Highly Commended; and GSK symposium in Weybridge (oral).
– I co-founded the Early Stage Researcher Peer Support Group (ESRPSG) with Kirsty which is going well
– I helped organise a conference (PGR Day) and was tasked with organising the external speaker (Robin Ince – what a guy!!)
– I spent 3 weeks in Sheffield University with Craig Murdoch and his group (Lucie, Luke) learning tissue model growth, which I’ve just started back in Cardiff too 🙂
Theres probably a lot more that I’ve just forgotten…but thats enough for now!
2016 has started slowly..with lots of things taking forever to get established, and things not working, but onwards and upwards so they say!