In the past month, I have continued to enjoy my work in the Sever Lab. I confirmed that my plasmid DNA was correct and what I desired, I learned how to incorporate it into embryonic kidney cells, took luciferase readings for the first time, and have gone on to do many more experiments using the reporter. Working closely with Professor Sever, I brought up four cancer cell lines from liquid nitrogen storage. Two are now thriving and being experimented on, as well as another cancer cell line provided to me by a coworker. The other two are just beginning to proliferate at a greater rate and will soon be ready for experimentation.
The day-to-day has shown a lot of repetition, which I was prepared for. Last Friday I realized that what I was doing that day was an exact copy of what I had done the previous Thursday. Instead of being exhausted or bored from doing the same thing, as I worried I would be, I was incredibly proud of myself because I got it all done in less time, with fewer mistakes, and with much more confidence. Certain experiments and procedures that took me an hour to learn how to do, with shaky hands and constantly confirming that I was doing the right thing with either my coworkers or Professor Sever, now take me a few minutes. I have done a dozen transfections at this point and each time I write less and less on the paper that I tape to the cell culture hood, to the point where it is now merely my calculations of amounts specific to that transfection. I have also learned how to analyze and organize my data in ways that are both clear and concise.
We have continued our weekly group meetings, presenting our results and explaining our next steps. My first presentation that had a lot of real data was met with many suggestions for improvement, which I listened to. I now feel much more comfortable when creating Powerpoints as well as in presenting them. Realizing that I am no longer nervous going into group meetings has been amazing and made me feel confident that I will be able to present my data to a larger audience at the end of the summer. I have also found it much easier to read the literature related to my research given to me by Professor Sever or that I found online. I still have trouble articulating what I’ve learned or discovered in my research, which came to my attention earlier this week as I wrote the introduction to my research paper. I am incredibly grateful that we are turning drafts into Professor Sever this early and will be working together with her and my lab mates to edit my paper and poster before submission.
In the upcoming month, as summer research winds to an end, I plan to continue the experiments that I am currently working on as well as start working with the two remaining cancer cell lines. I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of the material that I am studying, as well as to improve my ability to explain it to others. I look forward to the poster session at the end of July where I can put my presentation skills to a test, but until then, I am appreciative of the ability to practice and improve with my lab group.