So, leave it up to me to mess up once again. It’s actually really sad how many mistakes I make in lab. Umph. I’ll elaborate on my latest mistake in a little. But, the good thing is that in the end, my lab partner and I were able to work things out. The sad part, however, is that we were put a day behind schedule. Oh well. Now we know. And really, that’s one of the sweet things about doing research early on in my undergrad career–I’m allowed to make mistakes! I bet next year I’ll still make mistakes, but they definitely won’t be the ones that I made now. It’s a learning experience! It really is and I’m super glad my mentor doesn’t kill me when I mess up. :)
Okay, so I started off the week with a colony PCR. Basically, we had a plate with tons of colonies on it. We wanted to test to see if some of the colonies contained the right constructs in them. We ran a gel the day before and the results were not that great. So, we were hoping to try one last thing to see if we could get the results we wanted.I took some pics to document the process.Here’s the thermal cycler. Basically, when you want to perform a PCR, you punch in a program and press go. For those of you that don’t know, PCR is polymerase chain reaction. It allows you to makes thousands of copies of your DNA in a short time. It’s pretty cool how simple, yet powerful this technology is. It makes me happy. (: (sorry, my bio nerd self has to come out sometimes!) But yeah, after we collected all our samples and prepared them for the PCR, we put them in and went on to do other things while we waited.
The next step is where I messed up. When I set up the ligations, I used the purified insert, but the non-purified backbone. So, the recreation of the construct failed. But hmm, it’s a little sad that even though I had the correct backbone, I still used the wrong one! Oh well. The next day we redid the experiment and we got slightly better results. Thank goodness! Otherwise, I would have felt really bad. :)
Apart from this, I had to do a little prep work. If you ever work in a lab, then you’ll most likely experience agar plates. I’m sure you know that this is where you grow all your cultures for stuff. Yes, for stuff. The stuff that I’m using them for is to my construct. After we perform ligations, we perfrom a transformation and then plate the cells. This week I got to pour the agar! Apparently, the SURF students last year epically failed when pouring them, so I felt slightly good about my pouring abilities. Ha! But yes, as you can see, I poured a lot.
Okay, I promise my next blog will be more interesting. My mom is kidnapping me this weekend. I’ve been asking her to come take me home that way she can buy me stuff! Also, she’s going to teach me how to make tamales! Woooo! Hahaha. Lots of friends here at Tech have been asking me all year long to learn how to make them and I’m finally doing so. It should be fun.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.