Kelly Rose here, newest blogger for Bio-link.org. I never know where to begin with stuff like this so I'm going to get right to it.
A little background on me: I am currently attending Madison College's Post-Baccalaureate Intensive Certificate in Biotech program. Last semester, I was in the Associates Biotech Lab Technician program (you may remember me, but perhaps not, from Mandy Hunter's blog waaaaay back when she first started.We were in Cell Biology together last semester. I can only hope to be half as good at this as she is.) Since then I have been begun the post-bacc. I had originally hoped to be in this program, but assumed I wouldn't be accepted because my undergrad was in photography. Yes, I was an art school kid. But since I've been taking biology and chemistry courses over the past few years, and did exceptionally well in those courses, I was able to make it into this awesome post-bacc program. I believe it also had a lot to do with my love and enthusiasm for science.
In this program, we are expected to take responsibility for our own work. It's pass/fail, so there are no real 'grades', meaning that whatever we put into it, we take out of it. Of course, I am trying to put as much into it as is humanly possible. And I'm not going to lie, I'm exhausted, but having a ton of fun being so exhausted.
At this point of the semester (the entire program is one semester long and we are at about week ten) we have made it through the first of five four-week long modules. Our first module was all about learning proper lab skills in a regulated environment: using equipment properly, techniques for pipetting, and the calculations behind everything. Scales, spectrophotometers, micro and serological pipettes, pH meters, conductivity meters... it was a whirlwind of metrology and repetitive measurements.
The second module was proteins, in which we completed a downstream bioprocessing project. We extracted and purified beta-galactosidase from E. coli paste using ammonium sulfate precipitation and ion exchange chromatography, then wrote a lab report on the process.
This week, we have begun two modules that will run concurrently over the next four weeks: molecular biology and cell cultures. We are currently in week two of this module and my head is spinning in the best way possible.
In molecular biology we have already created growth curves from K-12 (specifically JM109 E coli) bacterial colonies that we isolated on agar plates last week. We took OD550 readings on the spectrophotometer over the course of one day, in order to figure out the logarithmic pattern of growth for our E. coli. Typically, once bacteria are out of the lag phase and into the log phase, they replicate every 20 minutes.
In cell cultures, we have each been given a plate of chinese hampster ovary (CHO) cells, which we fed with new media.
Then, we split our cells so that they could continue to grow and divide. Working in the cell culture lab is a little stressful at first since one must be extremely careful about contamination, much more so than in the molecular bio lab. In both, it is important to use aseptic techniques, but since mammalian cells are not nearly has hearty as bacteria, one must take extra precautions. In our cell culture lab, we always work in a laminar flow hood and go through ridiculous amounts of ethanol.
So yeah, that's the quick and dirty overview of the past ten weeks of the program. This weekend I'll be attending a short course on stem cells, so hopefully I'll have some cool stuff to report on after that.