Thursday 18/06/2015

Hmm today, today what to write about today.. well I did a lot but I don’t have a lot to show for it.

I arrived at my usual time of just after 8am, I made myself a to do list for today before I left on Tuesday so I was in the lab pretty swiftly. I was convinced I had some agarose in an incubator waiting for me but turns out I was wrong. So task one was to make some agarose. Then I had to let it cool for a little before I could add EtBr (this is the stuff that means we can see DNA on our gels). EtBr isn’t good for you so we don’t want to create any fumes with it. After making the agarose I set up some bacterial cultures  of a new mutant I’ve made (this one is a slow grower so it needs as many hours in the incubator as I can manage).

While I waited for the agarose to cool I faffed about a bit sorting out some Brilliant Club admin, updating my register, sending my launch trip expenses in etc. All necessary things to do but possibly a distraction from my work for the day, I should store these things up to do at the weekend. Anyway, by 9:15am ish I was back in the lab, I poured my gel and decided to get my samples ready while it set. Clearly this morning I was not paying attention though as rather than adding my sample to some loading dye (this stuff makes DNA sink in the wells of you gel rather than floating off) I added loading dye to my samples. I don’t want loading dye in my entire sample just in the very small amount I’m running on the gel. This means some of Tuesday’s work is now only fit for the bin 😦 . Luckily I was setting up the same experiment to run again today so I adjusted my volumes to repeat the samples and had them set up and running by 11am. Somewhere in here the boss popped into the lab and we had a chat about my experiment from Monday/Tuesday. I also sorted out a few strain numbers as we have a communal list of all the strains and mutants we have in the lab – this means we have a way to keep track of who’s done what and avoid duplicating work. If someone’s already made a mutant it can save you a lot of time!

The rest of my morning was dedicated to making lab meeting slides (our usual Friday afternoon meeting has been shifted to Thursday afternoon this week) and reading. That’s right READING! That elusive endeavor that we PhD students are supposed to dedicate a huge about of our time to but when you’re lab based you never have any time for as you’re doing experiments. Well I’d promised to do a little studying before our next lab meeting (I did fit some in last Friday night if you remember) so I gave myself an hour of reading and added some of what I’d learnt on Friday and today to my meeting slides. Somewhere in here we had a little office chat about thesis writing, I think about the thesis a lot and I think I’ve begun to formulate a decent plan for tackling it (I’m a person who plans, I NEED to plan) which helps me feel a little in control of the PhD process. I am however realistic and expect it will change before next year when I actually start writing. I’ve just realised I’ve not shared what stage of my PhD I’m actually at! I’m currently in my second year, about half way through my three funded years.

At 1pm we went for lunch (away from my desk 🙂 ), and when I came back I realised I’d actually crossed nearly all my lab work off my to-do list. Productive morning 🙂 . We started our meeting at 2:30pm but before that I managed deal with a few outstanding items in my inbox.

Our meeting ended up going on until about 5:30pm (I popped out to check my slow growing cultures a few times) and then I went back into the lab. My samples that had been running all day were ready to be run on gels so I loaded them and set them running for 45mins. I had planned to go the the gym this evening (I evened remembered my trainers which I didn’t manage on Tuesday) but by the time my samples had run, I’d step up the next step in my protocol to run overnight and had updated my lab book it was nearly 7pm. With a hungry boyfriend at home I decided to give the gym a miss this evening and go tomorrow morning instead. I was home by 7:30pm and got straight on with dinner. I made some homemade pesto (one of my absolute favourite things to make, I add a little mint from the garden rather than just basil) for our pasta.

The final thing to say is an exciting opportunity popped up today via twitter, I won’t share until I know a little more and have checked that it’s ok to share the info, but it proved to me that what I’m doing with my blog is useful to other PhD students which is a great boost.

That’s all for today, tomorrow I have a normal lab morning but I’ll be delivering tutorial 2 of my Brilliant Club course in the afternoon (lesson plan and resources are all ready to go – we’re having a poster session about different pandemics and epidemics caused by viruses). So until then, thank you for reading.

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