Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One Mistake After Another

So maybe today wasn't as bad as this title may make it seem. However, today was definitely a day of something new. After getting up and about, I got breakfast with Jing, Brandon, and Jack and subsequently the Biotechnology crew headed towards Biomedical Building. We headed not to the classroom but downstairs where we'd do the first lab of the class. At the entrance of the lab were some gloves, a red trash bin, and at the sides of the room, all the fancy equipment and materials we'd need. I put some gloves on and threw on the lab coat provided. I made it to my "bench" where I had micropipettes, a tray, glass vials, and other foreign materials laid out in front of me. I was beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed since I had never used any of the equipment before and had no prior crazy, bio-lab related experience.

The first thing was measuring with a micropipette and using it to transfer them into other plastic holders. I just so happened to be doing it wrong the whole time, transferring more amounts of each of the 5 solutions than was needed. Because of this, I was already one huge step behind. Slowly, but steadily, I made it to the next step where I had some assistance from Jody. It was working with sterile technique in which we had to transfer 5 mL of a solution to a test tube. The Bunson burner was, as part of the procedure was to pass it really quickly through the flame in order to maintain sterility. However, I am yet to do the process on my own, which fortunately, I'll be able to do in future labs with the class. Though a seemingly quick process, it took quite long. As I've mentioned, I had to restart in order to follow through with the steps properly, but in any case, the process of measuring and micropipetting took its while.

The final part of the lab, which was also the part with most steps, was working with actual DNA to see the way its structure differentiates. This was the first protocol we'd done in the lab, as the "Laboratory 1" (measuring and micripipetting) was something different. This second part was Ethanol Precipitation of Native (double stranded) DNA, in which we had to pour both equal amounts of the DNA solution and ethanol and examining the solution of the two liquids. The second part of this was heating and cooling the DNA (placing the glass tube of the DNA in boiling water; placing in an ice bucket) then adding the ethanol. In this procedure, I happened to mess up by spilling the heated and chilled DNA solution. This meant that I had to go over the over 6 minute process of getting it heated and chilled- yet another unnecessary and time-consuming mistake. Yes, it was clumsy of me, but clumsy is not a very good word to call someone when they're frustrated. At that point I couldn't believe how everyone had already finished and I was just there left to do another nearly 20 minutes of completing a beginner's activity. In such case though, I decided I'd just chill out and continue doing the best I could to get situated and make efficient progress. I gratefully made it through the second part of the protocol and moved on to the last part in which we'd use DNAase, an enzyme, into the Calf Thymus DNA solution followed by the ethanol. Each of the experiments ended with different results; the first with a thick, strandy material around the mixing rod, the second with a cloudiness towards the bottom with the same strandy material around the rod, and the third cloudy throughout the entire vial. I was curious as to how the different circumstances affected the product, which will be tomorrow's class discussion.

After class, I headed out to lunch, where I got a tuna sandwich, some veggies, and a couple of boiled eggs. Maybe it's just dining hall food, or that the tuna sandwich wasn't really good. In either case, I still valued the food on the table and then headed to my dorm, right when I met Jing. She was going to attend a talk which I decided I'd join to make something out of time. There was a total of 4 students, besides the presenter. We played a couple of videos, one of which is called Ambiguous, which discussed the struggles of mixed individuals. It was pretty interesting, considering that we touched on the subject of defining ethnicity and race, which is how ambiguous comes into play with the name of the video. In the group, I formally met Sam, who is in cluster. It was pretty nice getting to know more people from my quad that I haven't met before.

Also throughout the day, I checked in with my loved ones at home for a while, which is always something nice to do. Jack happened to see me outside on the phone, so afterwards I just headed up where both hung out for a while before going off to explore. It turns out we just hung out as a group along with other students from the quad. Just after that, I headed to bed in an attempt to nap. I knew I was going to miss dinner, but still I just rested my head on the pillow and slowly began drifting away. It wasn't before I had received a follow-up text from Brandon to have dinner that I got up and headed to the Ratty with him along with Sam and another member of the pineapples cluster. At the hall we also met up with yet another member from the quad and we all sat down to eat. I was pretty tired by then but I still wanted to make something more of the day so I decided I'd go see today's guest speaker, Jonathan Ebinger, a social media expert. It was interesting, but I found myself getting too sleepy to pay attention.

The night ended as I was back in my dorm, finishing up on work. Today our real RA, Evan, arrived, which is pretty exciting. I actually got to meet him as I checked in today. He seems really cool and seems to have lots of positive energy, something I look forward to within our entire cluster. Anyhow, I am just about to finish up my work right now, so for today that's a wrap. Tomorrow should be interesting with the discussion, though I have no idea whether it will be more frustrating than interesting... In either case, it'll be another college day at Summer@Brown.


  1. Arnold, congrats on making it through your first lab! I admire how enthusiastically you are jumping into the coursework. And remember, mistakes help us learn so don't fret over errors. Enjoy!

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