Happy 2013!

Mandy Hunter spends the week exploring bench top fermenters, bacteria that grow beneath your nails, chromatography, and still has time to tell us about a January 30th Marrow Registery Drive at MATC!

What a busy, busy start to the semester and the New Year! This semester I have Chromatography, Bioprocess Technology, Applied Microbiology and Chemistry for Biotechnology. No more seven credit semesters for me! But I suppose I can afford a full course load now that I’m not engaging in 3 a.m. stare downs like this anymore:

At least he’s sleeping through the night now.

In Bioprocessing, we explored a whole slew of bioprocessors, from the test tubes and stab vials we got to see in the lab to virtual tours of huge buildings housing twelve fermenters.  My favorite was the bench top fermenter.  I love how it’s put together with a pH meter and a stir plate from the lab:

I want to cobble together cool stuff like this.


In Micro we pressed our unwashed hands into agar plates.  Then we washed one hand and washed and sanitized the other, before pressing them a second time into the agar plates.  A quick peek Friday afternoon before we left the lab had me pretty grossed out about my nails.  They just naturally grow long and to be quite honest, I was a little vain about that fact until I saw the nastiness they were harboring.  Now I’m considering clipping them all off.  I’ll have photos next week of those results.

Biochem’s first couple of days involved introductions and safety instructions.  I’m really excited about this class because there’s just not a whole lot in life I love more than an electron. 

Chromatography had us hitting the floor running.  Our first day of class we were in the lab learning about extraction of Thymol Blue.    We added 2mL of an aqueous solution of Thymol Blue and 2mL of chloroform to a test tube and spun that bad boy in the centrifuge.  We were SUPPOSED to then to add 2 drops of 1M HCl to the tube before putting in the centrifuge again, in order to see the effect pH had on the Thymol Blue’s solubility in the different phases.  Everyone who did this correctly saw the blue color partition between the phases in big, bold, pretty leaps.  However, my lab partner and I inadvertently grabbed the 0.1M HCl, leading to cool peach and lavender in-between stages.  We realized our mistake and did things properly the second time, but our instructor said he was glad we had the happy accident, because we got to observe the process at different pH levels.   That reminded me of this Isaac Asimov quote I’ve always loved:

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'”


Not that we were making any groundbreaking discoveries, but it was still really neat to get to see more of the process.

My classmate, Adam, and his properly performed Extraction of Thymol Blue experiment.


At the Biotech Club meeting, we started making plans for the club banquet and discussed fundraising ideas.  We also learned that soon we’ll be getting our highly anticipated Club T-shirts. (I’m still ferociously jealous of Jennifer Newsted’s “Do these protons make my mass look big?” shirt!)

Also, the club is participating in a Marrow Registry Drive on January 30th from 10am to 3pm at the Madison College  Truax Campus (Room 142).  Stop by and check it out!

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