Blog Revived: Schedule

Since school has started back up, we are going to kick off a new posting schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Tuesday will be updates either about  things that are happening with school and/or lab work. It could be new techniques we learned and/or even mistakes we made.

Thursday will be about certain scientific topics or theories we are recently learning about or interested in. This day can include cool links to certain articles and/or papers.

Our first post will be this Thursday!

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

                                                                    –Albert Einstein


Picture Update!

It has been a couple of months since the last post, but what a busy past couple of months it has been! Currently in the lab, aside from the main lab work, we are planning out our goals and schedules for this up coming semester.

Here are some pictures to bring the blog back up to date:

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Elizabeth doing a TRIzol extraction (RNA extraction for PCR)

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One of the many RT-PCR’s that were ran in the last couple of months. As you can see here there are 36 tubes with the first two being the control.

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The tasks that need to be completed on a daily basis to keep the lab running.

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Some equipment and supplies that will be sterilized by autoclaving.

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A peek into what our main sink area looks like in the lab. The machine in the top right corner provides the lab with deionized water.


P.S – I found helix shaped bean pod!  It looks a bit like DNA 🙂


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The Fear of Getting Started

One of the most daunting things with applying to lab positions or any position at a university or college is putting your-self out there for the world to see and judge your experience and capabilities. Before I got my current lab position, I applied to another lab; I worked out my resume and cover letter, and tried to put my best qualities and abilities on a piece of paper. I got an email back a week later telling me that I was not chosen for the interview portion of the hiring process. This bummed me out. It was only one application, but when you try your very best and the situation does not turn out in your favor, how can you help but to sit there and think: What now? What qualities am I lacking that they were looking for? and How can I gain those qualities?

It is my opinion that questioning yourself like this is critical. This can make you realize that you need to take a step back and decide if you are judging yourself subjectively or objectively. I then went back to my resume and cover letter, looked back over it, and edited some sections. I asked a friend to compare the previous papers to the current edited papers. I remember she told me that she saw a difference between the two. In the second one I seemed more confident. This made me understand that just how you can stand up straight and carry yourself with confidence when you are in an interview, you need to be confident in your resume and cover letter. This includes confidence in your abilities and your desire and enthusiasm to learn.

To someone who has experience with applying to positions, this may be an obvious fact. For me though, because I was inexperienced, I haven’t had the opportunity to build this confidence. Then I figuratively pulled up my trousers and submitted my resume and cover letter to another lab looking to fill positions. I got a reply back the same day and through some correspondence and a lab tour, I got the position. I was ecstatic and so thankful to the lab for giving me the opportunity. The one thing that was different compared to the previous lab, was that this one was unpaid. To me this facet did not matter one bit. One day during the first week of working in the lab, the lab manager thanked me for spending my summer break helping out in the lab. Those small words added to the feeling that I am on the path to what I want to do with my life. To me it was and still is one of the best opportunities that I could have ever had in my early undergraduate career to dedicate my time to help in anyway to further the work of the lab.


P.S. Thank you for taking time to read this post! We are going to try in the coming posts to focus on what it is like to learn certain techniques in the lab.

First post from Lab Life!

This time last year I never thought I would be here blogging about my research experiences!  As I finish my first year of college I realize what a great experience it has been. A whirlwind of stressful classes, finding good friends, heartbreak and reviving my faith, has shaped me to the person I am becoming. As I continue to grow as a person, I will grow as a researcher; thinking of new ideas, or different methods to go about problems. I think the two are intertwined. I have already learned so much in the McGraw Lab. I was introduced into a field of science I didn’t even know existed! But this lab has given me inspiration to change my Biology major concentration to Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology. Choosing this concentration I want to learn more about the link between physiology and behavior, what makes us do what we do? Is it controlled by genes? What about environmental factors, even environmental contaminates? I have always been very conscientious of our planet and how we are affecting it. Therefore I am minoring in environmental and molecular toxicology to integrate both behavioral science and toxicology. The McGraw lab is a behavioral reproductive lab and so far it has been a perfect fit for me. I expect my college years to go by in a flash so I am using this blog to share what I have learned as a growing scientist.