The first week of classes is over. What an awesome week!
Of course our first classes were orientation, introductions and review of the syllabus. Based on my first impression, this is going to be such a fun year packed with tons of great information and tons of opportunity. The instructors have real world experience, all kinds of wonderful acronyms behind their names, and all have worked in labs at several different companies. They have done a fantastic job of welcoming us and giving us an idea of what our classes will entail while being enthusiastic and honest about workloads and expectations. I'm confident that each and every one of them is truly there to help us learn and grow in their respective areas of expertise. Whew!
After orientation we were unleashed in the lab to get familiar with where things are and what kind of equipment we're generously provided with for the program both from local benefactors and Portland Community College. The flavor of the week in lab was definitely documentation. Okay. It was really documentation and safety.
In Basic Lab Tech we extracted DNA from strawberries and focused on documenting our lab notebooks according to current expectations in industry labs. I have to admit, I've done this lab before, but that didn't make it any less fun! We also tackled our first two quizzes, mainly focused on safety procedures.
In Cell Culture we spent the week using pipette aids, practicing dexterity and familiarizing ourselves with the lab's compound microscopes and the inverted microscopes located in the Cell Culture room. Anyone who has ever had a lab class with me knows about my affinity for microscopes. We did the lab "Observing Human Cheek Cells using Methylene Blue Stain." I was seriously blissed out, but again, not my first rodeo with this lab either. Lectures for this class are designed to coincide with what we're currently working on in lab so we learn why we're doing the things we're doing. Today's lecture was about the history of cell culture and aseptic technique. Oh dear cell culture, how I will love the challenge!
Clearly, I love lab. However, there is so much more to the program! In Quality Systems we will be spending the term taking a fictional drug or medical device from inception through its release into the public market. Additionally we'll be navigating customer complaints to determine if the product should be recalled. The purpose of this project is to orient students with FDA regulations that affect these products. It sounds to me like a fun project and a fantastic way to learn how Quality Systems affect the bioscience technology industry.
Based on our first class in Current Topics, the course is promising to be rich in class discussion as well as informational about hot button topics. Also, our instructor gave us a few anecdotes about her experiences that were entertaining. Sweet, another interesting class!
Workplace Safety is going to be all kinds of interesting to me. I feel a little like Dorothy no longer in Kansas hearing about a world where employers actually WANT you to take time out to make sure you are moving forward with procedures with safety in mind first. Me being so fond of me, safety is going to easily be one of my favorites.
And last, but not least we've got lab math. I've had a total of three lectures on significant figures (sig figs). Three. The first one was awesome, the rules were clear and I understood how to use them. Unfortunately, I never really got the reasoning behind it other than to make science students want to pull out their hair when initially learning sig figs. The second lecture about sig figs took place late in the day (evening class) and apparently I was too exhausted to follow because it completely undid all of what I learned in the first lecture.
If you want to understand how to work with sig figs and why they're used, have an engineer explain them to you. Seriously! All the light bulbs came on and went bananas. I'm pretty sure my mouth was sore from being in the "Oh" position for about half an hour. Now, if she can get log and ln through my head I'll be in great shape! On a serious note, looking ahead at the reference manual the class really does seem like it will give us a great foundation for practical applications in the lab.
And that brings me to my last little bit of news. The Oregon Bioscience Association is having their conference soon. Our class was invited to attend for free if we volunteered to work as well. Our instructors have impressed upon us how great of an opportunity this is and have even given us class time off in order to attend. I'm excited to attend the poster show and learn about the companies and research institutions here in Oregon. In fact, I'm so excited it has inspired me to order some business cards with my name, bioscience technology student status, email and phone number so I can hand them to people in bioscience I meet throughout the year. (I hope that's an idea some other students can benefit from as well!)
I'm off to write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on brushing my teeth. What a great week one! Oh. It was also my birthday yesterday.
More Pics from week One:
Learning how to use the pipette aids without flooding the filters is fun! In related news, learning how to change the filters in case you accidentally flood them is also fun! I don't want to have to do it though.
Above is a picture of the equipment we were using while practicing pipette aid transfers. I had to get some clarification on the pronounciation of pipette aid. My hearing was playing a trick on me and I thought the instructor had said "pipette A" and I was wondering why it sounded so french and how it might have been related to Pinochio's father.
Don't worry, it's only food dye. :)
For our DNA extraction from strawberries our instructor prepared our Lysis buffer and the ethanol. We will be doing our own solutions soon though.
The trick to extracting the most liquid from your squished strawberry and lysis buffer is to make sure you don't accidentally double filter and carefully sqeeze the filter against the side of the funnel at an angle to get more liquid. Make sure you do it at an angle though incase you break the filter so you can prevent the pulp from dropping into your beaker. I pulled approximately 8.5mL from one medium small strawberry and 10mL of lysis buffer. I'd love to call that instinct, but no, I was taught that way.
I saved the best for last!!! Isn't she beautiful? Brand new Nikon ECLIPSE TS100 Microscope. So hot. Here's how hot. I was completely blown away by the biological safety cabinets. Of which there are two in the room with this microscope. I was so in love with this microscope that I completely forgot to take pictures of the BSCs.