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Practically Scary Halloween Week

Can you guess the mystery organism in the cell culture?  A very creepy Halloween visitor.

This week at Portland Community College I receive my cells, do battle with mold, and make solutions galore!

We got our CHO (Chinese Hamster Ovary) cells on Monday and began by doing our first subculture and passage. Observing the cells throughout the passage process was fascinating. Although we’re using antibiotics in our media, there still appears to be some kind of visitor whom as of yet remains unidentified.

 (Anybody care to venture a guess? See the pic on the right provided by a classmate.)

By Thursday I had performed two passages, filtered media made from powder and added antiobiotic-antimycotic, practiced cell counts on a hemacytometer, and re-suspended cells for cell count for a hemacytometer. I also repeated the African Violet tissue culture for personal redemption. Hopefully this time I won’t have mold (I've attached a picture of my nemesis below). Yeah, so, that was the easy part of the week.



















We had our LabTech practical on solutions today. It was two straight hours of intensely focused tension. You could have heard a pin drop at any moment during that practical. It was by far the most concentrated (pun intended) lab practical I’ve ever been through and it was only solutions! In our defense we were only able to practice making single component solutions a few times and made a multiple component solution once, twice if you count making and pH-ing Tris.


Here’s the thing though. As challenging as that practical was, the tasks were still fun. If it would have been a mock practical I would have had a blast. It was a learning opportunity. We were able to see exactly what we were capable of in a set amount of time and it will only get easier from here. Sometimes you need a little boost though and that’s exactly what we got. Our instructor emailed us in the afternoon telling us that she thought we all did a great job. She hasn’t checked our solutions or our math and write-ups yet, but watching us work by the time we got to our last station she saw “a group of competent and confident lab technicians working well under pressure.” She also told us in the email that she didn’t think this was an easy exam. She sure didn’t have to do that, but it made several of us feel a whole lot better about the practical. We are lucky to have instructors who really do care. They even pass on stories about leaving carboys filling up with dH2O forgotten for the night and having whole floors of a building flooded.  That’s anecdotal gold. Seriously, gold.

I made salt water! Yes, it is sort of the kind that you can go into your kitchen to make, but my salt water was made at particular molar concentrations.  I’m attaching some images of my solutions and of the pH-ing process for the Tris buffer we made. Notice my lab partner and I had our beaker on the stir plate labeled. We’re fancy.

Hope you had a great week too! If anyone would care to take a guess at our mystery organism that would be really super. 

Bio-Link Program: 
Portland Community College


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