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Conference, Exams and Bacteria, Oh My!

This week in Basic Lab we continued working with micropipettors and today we had our first lab exam and practical. The practical was actually really fun! There are quite a few tubes that our instructor will have to verify the measurements on though, so it’s not likely that we will get our results until next week. Overall, I believe I did well.

Also this week several students from our program volunteered for the Oregon Bioscience Association’s “Oregon Bio 2012!” and attended the poster show. The people at OBA clearly worked hard ensuring the conference ran smoothly and was enjoyable for guests, sponsors and presenters.  I found it interesting to see the displays and posters from so many local bioscience related companies and organizations. All kinds of great companies displayed info about their equipment, products and research. (I also have a map of Washington’s bioscience companies listed to work my way through as well.) The highlight of the poster show was Tokyo Chemical Industry’s pens. They have a roll out periodic table on them! (Nerd swag!!!) Tragically, they ran out before I could scoop one up. (A classmate, whose anonymity I am protecting, provided the picture I’m including here.)Best nerd Swag ever! TCI’s product catalogues and company information were actually really interesting. I’m more interested in what can be done with them for researchers than the actual process of making them though.

After completing my little shift of volunteering on Wednesday I returned to campus with a classmate for the cell culture class in the afternoon. Sadly, our instructor’s flasks were contaminated with bacteria and had to be discarded, leaving our instructor and class to start again from scratch. I know it’s going to set us back but it was also a great learning experience because now I know how to take apart a BSC for sanitizing. You can bet I went straight to the cabinet I had previously swabbed and made sure the edge that causes the seam between the bench and the back was clean, clean, clean.

Our lab is next door to a microbiology lab. Also, next to the third BSC are the growing lights and storage area for the botany class’ plants. The likelihood of contamination is pretty good regardless of how excellent you are with your aseptic technique. It’s nearly impossible to tell where the contamination came from. Hopefully it won’t happen again. Our instructor is so cool and helpful that I'd hate to see her get bummed out again. It was still very cool for her to turn it into a learning experience for decontamination. I'm curious how many students have had to help decontaminate a cell culture lab. 

We used bottle filters to filter our fetal bovine serum (FBS) and DMEM, and F-12 media. Then during cell culture lecture we learned about how the cells use the media for metabolism. It included information about glycolysis, and what the cells look like when they’re not doing well. It got me thinking about what other additions you could make to the media and the other things being produced by the cells (i.e. farming proteins). I had to reel myself back in though; right now the focus is on metabolism.

Math. Math just got real this week. Our instructor’s kid gloves have been carefully stowed away and the easy stuff is over. It’s dive into the word problems time. As soon as I manage to get it down, we will be having our exam. We also got last week's homework back. I have no idea how I managed it since I do have a fair grasp on the metric system using kilos, deci, centi, mili, and micro, but I got nearly every conversion question wrong. See image of the carnage on the right to prove I am human and have no where to go but up on this one! No more bouncing around the decimal for me. I'm going to have to check and recheck to make sure they're making sense from here on out until it is second nature. Oh you, you math. 



If you've decontaminated a cell culture lab as a student I would love to hear about your experience. Did you get to take the equipment apart yourselves? Have you since moved on from school and used that experience to help decontaminate a working cell culture lab? Or are there any instructors/former instructors that have had their students break the equipment down for decontamination? I'm just curious. It seems like it would happen fairly frequently in learning environments, not so much in work environments. 



Bio-Link Program: 
Portland Community College


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