Happy CauseScience Friday everyone! Although today is supposed to be unlucky (Friday the 13th, eek!), things seem to be going well experimentally for us!
Crestwind24– I am doing a little bit of lab work today, but mostly I am mostly working hard on data and image analysis to put into a powerpoint presentation for a talk next week. While this work can seem tedious, communicating results in a clear and meaningful way is super super super important skill for scientists to develop. Wish me luck!!
pgurel– Today I’m using fluorescence microscopy to look at my favorite filamentous protein, actin, on a unique surface. My actin filaments are on EM grids so that in the future, I can look at them using cryo-EM to understand their structure. I’m using fluorescence microscopy first to confirm that the filaments are happily on the grids. You can see I’m giving a thumbs up because this set-up seems to have worked! YAY!
pgurel– Despite being Friday the 13th, things seem to be going alright for me in lab so far. Today, I am doing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to create a new DNA construct that I will eventually use to express and purify protein. I am working on making a protein factor that helps facilitate actin assembly. PCR is one of the most widely used lab techniques, but you can always run into some issues… not today though! In my selfie, I’m holding an image of my gel with two clean bands of DNA that represent the correct PCR products. Yay!
crestwind24– This morning I am doing work in the dark microscope room. Using a wide field microscope and fluorescence, I can look at the axons of worms as they crawl around on a plate. Specifically, today I am looking at axons in live worms for outgrowth of neurites in addition to the main axon. I have devised a scoring system, and will compare the outgrowth in wildtype worms and in worms that have mutations in genes that may be involved in the axon outgrowth. Super cool to look at neurons in living animals so easily!!
Help us do science! I’ve teamed up with researcher Paige Brown Jarreau to create a survey of CauseScience readers. By participating, you’ll be helping me improve CauseScience and contributing to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get FREE science art from Paige’s Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a t-shirt or a $50.00 Amazon gift card (100 available).
crestwind24– Today I am doing a bunch of VERY serious molecular biology (as you can see from my picture)!! I am extracting DNA from C. elegans and genotyping them for a transgene that I hopefully added to their genome. In short, I performed an experiment to add my DNA of interest to the DNA of the worms, and now I need to check for worms where the addition of my DNA of interest worked. Cross your fingers for me! Maybe this serious face will change to a smiling face by the end of the day!!
pgurel– Today I’m preparing grids for cryo EM. I’m troubleshooting some problems (as I mentioned previously, I’m trying to develop a new method), and the first step of preparing grids is to make sure they are extra clean. One step I take is to clean grids using a glow-discharge plasma treatment. This is basically a fancy way to try and remove all impurities or contaminants from the grid surface. For highly sensitive techniques like cryo EM, even very small impurities (smaller than a speck of dust) can ruin the experiment, so it’s incredibly important to make sure grid surfaces are clean! Here I am with the plasma cleaner!
psgurel – I’ve just spent most of my morning in lab meeting, and will spend my afternoon going to a few lectures. Presenting work and getting feedback is a critical part of science. Lab meetings are somewhat more informal sessions where the entire lab can get together and discuss specific details on members’ projects. It’s helpful for all involved in terms of troubleshooting, fine tuning direction of the research project, etc. It’s fun, but can also be somewhat tiring. Here’s my post lab meeting selfie 🙂
crestwind24 – This morning I came into lab very early to make sure I got all of my experiments done before heading to Philadelphia in the afternoon. One of the things I needed to do was run 4 PCR reactions and then image the products of the reactions using gel electrophoresis. Or more simply, I needed to make specific fragments of DNA from the C. elegans genome, and then make sure I made the correct DNA by looking at its size. When I visualized the PCR reactions separated by size on an agarose gel (top panel), I did not see the size DNA I was making with the PCR. Instead I saw a bunch of randomly sized bands and smears (hence my grumpy face when sitting at the gel imager, bottom left). Luckily, since I was in lab so early, I redid the PCR at a different temperature and got nice crisp bands at the exact size I expected (right bottom panel)!!! I love when molecular biology works!!!
crestwind24- I am spending part of my day processing images (micrographs) that I took earlier on our labs confocal microscope. As I mentioned in a previous CauseScience Friday, the confocal allows me to take amazing pictures of neurons and their axons and dendrites. Today I am taking many images taken through the depth of a worm and making 3D animations. This allows you to see the morphology of the axons – or where they are in space. Below is a partial low-res GIF I made of one of my animations – it shows two neurons and their axons in C. elegans!!
psgurel- Part of joining a new lab involves developing a new project. Today, I’m doing some test runs as an initial step in developing a method for imaging different conformations of actin filaments for cryo Eelectron Microscopy. First, I have to coat EM grids in a mechanism that will allow the actin to bind properly, so I’m surveying different ways of coating EM grids. Wish me luck!
Happy Halloween!!!! Here at CauseScience we take Halloween very seriously. In fact, we are both traveling to Washington DC today for our annual Halloween get together with friends. Every year for awhile now we have picked a group costume… and rocked it! Although it is not really science-y at all, here are a few pictures of us from the last 3 years (#selfie… sort of).
Last year we did Peter Pan – CauseScience as Tiger Lily and Michael Darling!
Sesame Street… and apparently dancing Gangnam Style… CauseScience as Ernie and the Count!