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Fun with Plant Cell Culture and Visiting the Stedman Lab at PSU

Do biotech students ever sleep?  Between visiting a virology lab, learning how to culture African violets, and learning more about lab safety, it's been a busy week.

This week my adventures led me to the lab of Dr. Kenneth Stedman at Portland State University. One of the ongoing projects in his lab has Dr. Stedman and graduate students looking for answers to questions about a virus with a structure unlike any known virus. Even I know that structure affects function so why this virus is shaped almost like a lemon (if you can visualize it) is absolutely fascinating. (Oh, and did I mention that it's a thermophile?!) What its affects are on its host and how it interacts with its host physically are just some of the questions for which Dr. Stedman's lab is seeking answers. I was promised a couple of research papers to read about what they've done so far. That will be excellent practice at reading and deciphering graduate level research. Besides looking amazing on a resume, it would definitely be an interesting lab to do an internship with.

In classes this week we experimented with plant cell culture by taking leaf clippings of an African Violet and sterilizing them, then placing them in a nutrient rich solution in a cell culture plate. By this time next week I should find out if I have mold or if I have little tiny African Violet plants. The procedure is on my website. We also syringed 5mL of antibiotics into our serum for our cells, which we should be getting any day now.

In lab tech we continued on our path to solutions with more lab math (I can't get enough practice here) and with getting our gloves wet (not really) and making a few solutions on our own. I made salt water! Yay! But not just any salt water. 0.1M NaCl to be specific and it was tons of fun! Next week we will be using a conductivity meter to see how accurate our solutions are. I’m feeling pretty confident.

Workplace Safety is becoming an increasingly interesting class. There sure seems to be a lot of ways you can die in the lab. Now that I’m thinking about how chemicals get thrown in mixed chemical containers I’m wondering if it will take me half an hour or longer to dispose of something, while I run through the list of other chemicals already in the container for reactivity. Yikes!

This week I’ll be exploring some corporate internship opportunities. I would love to hear about what others have considered or done for their internships. Maybe you have an idea I haven’t considered.

Bio-Link Program: 
Portland Community College


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