Lab

Sebastian De Pasquale’s talk reminded me to appreciate the opportunity that I have. Every weekend I go to Iowa City and work at a lab in the anatomy and cell biology department at the University of Iowa. Working in the Tootle Lab, I get to research the model organism: Drosophila (fruit flies). I do basic research regarding the structure and function of a specific protein in the nucleus of cells, called actin.

I greatly appreciate this opportunity, however, when I first started working in this lab over the summer, I was overwhelmed. The first thing that really caught my attention was the fly room which is engulfed in over 1000 fly stocks. The carbon dioxide tank stood in the corner and six lab members sat at their respective benches, sorting, feeding, and dissecting the fruit flies. Now, however, that fly room is a familiar environment. It became my training room and my new home. I have spent over 100 hours in that room carrying out various experiments.

For the past few weeks, I have spent an extensive amount of time in the fly room in preparation of creating a Western Blot. First I sorted the virgin female flies and set up crosses so the females mated with males of a specific genotypes. I then fed the flies so they remained healthy and productive. After the flies had been fed well for about a week, I dissected over 80 flies to get my protein sample. I created the specific gels required to run a Western blot. All of this prep work occurred over the course of a few weeks. Finally on Sunday I got to do my first western blot. Having read about western blots in AP Biology the previous year, having watched several lab members make western blots, having read the protocol multiple times, and having done all the prep, I was extremely excited to finally be able to do one myself. With the assistance of my PI, I set up the gels and loaded the samples. I was very nervous for this initial step because a practiced and steady hand is needed. Though I took a fair amount of time, I successfully loaded the samples without any cross-contamination. I navigated through the nerve-racking process of transferring my gel to a nitrocellulose sheet without any major mistakes. When the process was completed and all the analysis had been taken care of, I cannot express how relieving it was to see that the gel had turned out well. The data was usable and I had completed my first western blot. A productive Sunday in my opinion!

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