(don't) Let them Eat Twinkies

Hostess is threatening to take away our Twinkies. Bravely, we forge ahead into the bioscience learning horizon with exciting guest lecturers. 

This week at Portland Community College’s Bioscience Technology program we were treated to visits from people in our local biotech industry.  Our first visit was from Jerry Thomas, PhD, formerly of Molecular Probes/Invitrogen/Life Technologies.  Dr. Thomas’ lecture was informative, entertaining and friendly. While answering our questions about what he looked for during interviews for potential new hires and entry level technicians, he gave us more insight about exactly what we need to communicate during an interview. He stressed the importance of being able to go with the flow and embrace change. He also spoke with us in detail about the pros and cons of working in academia and industry. Finally, Dr. Thomas went into the types of stress related to careers in both sides of the bioscience world. This almost left me feeling too frightened to take on either. Then I thought about the grueling month end deadlines. The six straight eighteen hour plus days and falling asleep at your desk in the wee hours of the morning. All while trying to clear underwriting and funding conditions on loans when I worked in the mortgage industry. Finally, I figured it would take a lot to come close to the type of stress associated with those paychecks. Besides, if my hair falls out I’ll just get a bunch of really sassy wigs. Wigs are awesome!

We continued on our adventure with serial dilutions. This time using BSA and PBS for the Bradford Assay. I didn't get to the point of being able to measure mine using the spectrophotometers, but we will be repeating it next week so I'm sure I will be able to then. No matter how hard and what angle I tried, I couldn't get my phone camera to capture the true gradient of the blues in my results so take my word for it. It was pretty. As a result of this exercise I have decided to add bubbles to my list of nemeses. For those of you keeping track, the full list is now: 1) mold, 2) bubbles.

Friday our lab was invaded by ColumbiaSoft. ColumbiaSoft makes a program called Document Locator that helps large companies maintain easily traceable paper trails and meet FDA and other regulatory guidelines for audits. They do all this by organizing documentation and facilitating workflows based on the client company’s specific needs. It’s a fantastic tool if you are working in Quality Systems. And it’s definitely something you should be familiar with if you’re considering entering industry. Their user interface is based on Windows, making it almost intuitive and ridiculously user friendly.

ColumbiaSoft's instructor Tara, provided a solute of what she originally claimed to be pure sugar for making hummingbird food.  After the first test we ran on our solution (a pH test), my lab partner and I regarded Tara (if that was her real name) with a fair amount of suspicion. This required us to look at her whilst turning our heads sideways and closing one eye for the propper effect. Could she have sabotaged our hummingbird food with a bit of baking soda? We thought so. We also tested salinity, specific gravity and OHM to determine if our solution met the regulatory specifications. As we suspected, ours most certainly did not. We speculated our seemingly harmless visitor Tara, was guilty of corporate espionage, deliberately tampering with our hummingbird food to exactly what end? I’ll tell you. She wanted some of us not to meet regulatory guidelines so we could complete a non-conformance report and a corrective action form using their software. Gasp!

In all seriousness though, the software was really cool stuff. Anyone who has ever had to climb a ladder to get up to pallets of banker’s boxes in a storage facility (that has been left to whatever chaos the last person reighned upon it) in order to pull an old file will probably agree. It can be a terrifying task.






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