So with the inspiration of Bun's latest post here is an entry. Though I must say I have been meaning to write one for awhile.
Anyway not too much has been going on except managing my 4 jobs. I guess its more that I dont want to quiet anything so I just sit it out until they are done. First on to finish will be the uni data entry job next friday (25th). Hopefully I will get it all done by then. I have about 18hrs left to do, so shouldnt be too bad :).
Next one to finish will be tutoring. I have 4 kids, for biology and all really smart. So its actually lots of fun. We get into good conversations about ethics, research and history (of science) - so I'm really really really enjoying it! But come HSC all will be done, and that's not too far off now.
DJ's - well I don't think I could ever give that up. It isn't even work anymore. I love homewares and it gives me such a break from the science world its wonderful. However retail is going to have a horrible yr so I maybe asked to leave for financial reasons. Still I'll stay for as long as possible. 3 Sundays a month is just enough to catch up with everyone :P.
Now for my proper/actual job as a Research assistant. It's going well - well today I had a fabulous day. I managed to grab the machine I needed all day (so I didn't have to stay back until 10pm) and I actually got some results. YAY! Plus I got an awesome amount of compliments, but more about that later....
So what I'm doing - well I started off with microarray data, which basically is short sequences of DNA that represent sections of over 100,000 genes. Wild type (WT) and Sick (M) samples are added and a colour change indicates if a reaction is occurring and how strong it is. Then after a lot of statistics you can identify sequences which show a difference between the WT and M. This usually drops it to a list of 45,000 and a bit more stats (measuring it against a gene which is not affect regardless of a healthy or sick condition) usually drops the number to around 400. I was the lucky one that took 3 week to go through data bases, confirm the whole genes sequence, get information regarding what has been found about that gene, and if it relates to what I do (neurobiology) then I designed primers - for all 356 target sequences identified from the mircoarray my boss did. Anyway I have a final list of 48 genes spanning three regions of the brain.
Now the experimental part - I get to do a lot of PCR. This is the amplification of DNA. In forensics they do it to have more of the sample in order to id the suspect. In fact that is what it is most commonly used for - increasing the amount of sample you have. However in my case I'm doing what they call a real time (or QT) PCR. this means when it is amplifying it emits flourescence, which plots a graph. So instead of doing all those horrible gels I had to do last yr I get a nice graph. Much easier you would think. BUT NO! I have had sooooooooo much trouble trying to get some nice looking graphs. (I will add these pictures later. I have left them at work :(...). So after 3 weeks I finally have things looking ok and I managed to do the 6hr experiment to get some wonderful results (again pic will come later). This is one out of 48 mind you! so lots to go. BUT very excited i got it working.
In the big picture this work I am doing is just to identify areas for future research. So from the graphs I will be looking to confirm differences in gene activity between WT and M, using at least 10 samples (compared to the one as before). Then we can start doing functional assays which Identify how that gene is influencing out condition - whether is it making a product which blocks the normal function, or not making a key element, etc....So basically its the set up for a grant proposal which (if accepted) will give funding for a 3yr project :) yay! :p
It makes me feel slightly important in the small scheme of things :P. So here I was all chuffed that my experimental work is finally working and I should have a few results for my supervisor (Greg) before the next lab meeting on July 2 (which we present our work).
Now for the second good news of today - I then get told that I'm being looked for by the head of jeans for Genes day campaign. Turns out that when i helped out about a month ago i did a good job (we get people in who spend a day learning about science. I took one of the groups and showed them a bit of what I do - making DNA, showed some stained embryos and some slides). A good enough job that this Head lady was out and about in the blue mountains and got approached by a local. This local was one of the ppl I had showed things too and she made a bit of a fuss about how fantastic and enjoyable I made her visit. So (too bad the head of my lab is away) everyone in my lab got to hear, before she eventually called me over the loud speaker. I felt pretty special considering that was within the first week of my employment. :)
So yea that was my day. Hopefully the good stuff keeps coming for the rest of the week. However I do think I'll get a run for my money at a meeting I have to hold tomorrow to try and convince the rest of my lab to use this new bit of equipment that I have been put in charge of. So I best be off to sleep...
Also This is great: http://www.weebls-stuff.com/songs/Amazing+Horse/