Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life in a Virology Lab...

Hmm, this depends on the perspective on which you see it. Is a virus even considered life? This is debatable. Imagining the virus to be a conscious 'thinking, feeling, thing'... and taking the concept of 'life' even further... Life in a virology lab must be quite terrifying if you ask me. Short. Constantly being probed by scientists. Destroyed. Confined to the space within a flask. For the scientist though, it is interesting. Learning to work modified DNA into bacteria for replication is very alluring to say the least.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolution of a Labster

Ok so last semester was definitely not my best.  I could outline my frustrations here but that would take too long and you have probably heard me say something to that effect at one point or another recently.

I know it's a little cliché to talk about new beginnings and blah, blah, blah at the first of the new year but I'm gonna do it anyway.  I have a very simple goal and it is this: I may not be the subject matter expert now, but I will get one step closer.  Although I think this will be my motto for the next several years, I wanted to share it here.  So if you feel like you've been in a rut or that things aren't going exactly the way you envisioned them going, just get one step closer.  Even if that one step is a baby step, you'll eventually get there.

Friday, December 13, 2013

requested by david

idk why david wanted this, I just told him I would leave it here

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lab members at their finest...

"Gru/Charlie" coming to the lab every night thinking that he's going to conquer the world

 The minions reaction when they know that's not what's really going to happen

The minions going to their PI, Dr. Nafario for coffee

Gru/Charlie grumpy when his minions are having too much fun because they are hyped up on coffee

Dr. Nafario and his right hand man

Late nights at the lab with Papi Flu

Monday, November 4, 2013

Modern Frankenstein

Ok, so for some reason, the hood seems to have some sort of mystical power over me, especially late at night when I sit alone splitting my cell lines.  So far I have A549s and FT's, but I want to maintain a flask of everything, so if anyone has some, please, if you let me know it would be much appreciated.  Anyway...  So, I was sitting there alone last night splitting my cells and it got me thinking about life, which some how, through the powers of the hood, grew into something much more...

Plans for a "living" mechanical-cell:

Before I start, I'd like to point out that there is no solid definition of what life really is.  It's more descriptive and evolves over time.  The current biological "definition" has various characteristics of life, but can't tell us for sure, yes or no, is this life or not... (as is the case with viruses). So, anyway..

Creation of a large man-made cell using computer systems. Suppose a robotic self-sustaining system is developed, designed in such a way that it would need to harvest or synthesize a lubricant, metal, and a fuel source/materials for a solar panel. At first this system would be huge, it would need several different areas for carrying out it's various functions for self-sustainability.  Sensors would be put into place as a means of creating a signaling/mock immune/nervous system.

As means of a sort of homeostasis, the machine would be able to lubricate itself. Response to external and internal stimuli are done through sensors. Metabolism is done through the generation of energy whether it is powered by steam, fossil fuel, solar power, nuclear, etc.

The computer/brain would be capable of harvesting parts/raw materials to carry out the instructions of its onboard schematics(DNA). 

All of these machines would be connected in a sense, via something like the internet for the purpose of transmitting information needed to promote the survival of their species. For example, the onboard sensors would be able to recognize different elements; in the case that a one of these "cells" becomes damaged in anyway, it would be recorded in the onboard memory and beamed to other cells as a sort of warning. Other "cells" could then be able to develop ways to protect themselves of threats. In the case of acid rain or other corrosive materials, for example, "cells" would be able to add a new material capable of withstanding such threats to their list of items they are seeking (lubricant, metal, energy).

Metabolism would be the use of energy, as mentioned before.

Through the response to its environment and it's addition of different components based on its chemical knowledge, I could make the argument that this is a growing, evolving, dynamic machine.  

It seems to meet all of the biological requirements for life (I'm probably missing something or another), yet in all honesty I would consider this to be far from living. So, I'm curious as to what all of you think.  Is this technically life?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Immortalized Cell Lines

At first glance immortalized cell lines and maintaining them seem to be a sort of necessary evil of lab.  More of a tool to get work done than anything.  A protocol which until recently I haven't honestly put too much thought into.  I've known what goes into them and the purpose of different substances, but my thought on them plateaued in a sense.  However I've found that the more time I spent splitting the cell lines I've been maintaining, the more I think about what goes on beyond the normal routine of the protocol of splitting them.

At times I've wondered how these cell lines were produced. Why are they not cancerous? Could they be cancerous because they are indefinitely proliferating?

Is immortalization possible with other cell lines? Can stem cells be give rise to other stems? Can you clone pluripotent stem cells?

Is it possible that cells in vitro could evolve differently than in vivo cells?

Last but not least, my most "out there" idea. Would it be possible to reassemble life in space? Is the fusion of sex cells on an unmanned spacecraft possible to extend the length of interstellar voyages. How do cells react in zero gravity.

So many questions...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Some of you might hear the myth about a little girl running around the lab at night...  but that is just a myth.

On the other hand, I encounter paranormal activity in our own lab. We called it THE centrifuge. It is a mentally deranged scientist from the 1920's who had an obsession for the power of a centrifuge. The story tells that he likes to grab as many tubes as possible and walk the halls of the lab trying to mix the solution until he forms a pellet. 

And, I happen to record him in action... take a look, but BEWARE! you might be scared...

Monday, September 23, 2013

I survived my first week in lab :)

Coming into a new laboratory is a very scary experience. Especially when you want to clean up and organize everything and you have a german lady as a lab technician that is about 6' 1'' feet tall! I found out that she was not very fond of my cleaning habits since she asked me "You are not one of those neat freaks are you?" But after seeing what I had done with the place, I think she actually liked it. Now I know where everything is and this place is now starting to feel more like home.  
Also, I was given a set of samples by another postdoc in the lab. He wanted me to analyze them by immunoblot in order to test my working abilities... I guess. Along the process everybody kept trying to tell me how to make my buffers, run the gel, treat the membranes and under what conditions I should transfer it, but I was very stubborn and stuck to the way I did my 10,000 previous immunoblots. All of this time I kept thinking, if surgeons are not told by every hospital how to perform a surgery, why should researchers be told how to run their immunoblots! hahaha (Yes, for researchers doing immunoblots and making them look perfect is as much of an art as surgery!) In the end, my immunoblot looked very good and it even got some people asking me under what conditions was the gel ran and transferred. So, I really hope that next time people will look at me as trustworthy and I am allowed to do things the way I know how to do them.     

Monday, September 9, 2013

Embarking on this journey called doctoral studies

Well with the start of a new semester, I start a new phase in my academic life: being a doctoral student.  I thought it wise to be conservative with my schedule since I did not know what would be expected of me and how I would need to perform.  This is new territory for me and I do feel a bit lost.  So here are the questions have been on my mind:

What do I need to accomplish this semester?
What is my plan for research?
Who should I do a rotation with?
Who should be on my committee And what the hell is a committee anyway?

I consider myself lucky to have other graduate students who can guide me. Granted I always have the program advisors and our illustrious P.I. but it is nice to have a student's perspective.  They understand better than anyone else because they were in my shoes at one time.  They will keep it real and tell me what is important for my survival.

With that, I will wish my fellow new students the best of luck and continued success as we do this thing we call science.