Semester at ‘See (Wupdate 2, F16)

The voyage continues, friends.

The past week and a half I’ve been doing lots of lab work, though I’m not allowed to take my lab notebook home without written consent, so I don’t have that to reference for my summary.

As an aside, if I do want to take it home, there’s a form that assesses the notebook’s threat to national security should it fall into the wrong hands (or if I left it in Craig Teague’s car, which I’ve done multiple times with my lunch).

Anyway, in the lab I’m exploring a technique called cell-free protein expression (CFPE), which is making a protein without using a live cell. Various companies make kits to do this and I’ve been using one of them for my project. Setting the reactions up is literally as easy as adding some purified DNA to a test tube with the necessary cellular machinery and resources. A downside is that these reactions are extremely expensive, so most of my (PCR) tubes had a total volume of 5 (!) microliters. Once the reaction is complete, I see if it worked by running a gel with my controls. If there is a new product, it will likely show up on the gel.

Ultimately, the goal of my project is to successfully express a membrane protein (in soluble and native form), but membrane proteins are notoriously difficult to work with for many reasons. Traditional approaches to doing this are with cloned E. coli cells expressing the protein of interest, which is the second part of my project, so ideally, one of the two techniques will result in a well-behaved protein.

Besides the lab work what else have I been up to? Here’s a quick list:

-Attended a seminar on scientific ethics this morning

-Went geocaching with the p-chem professor, Craig Teague, instead of actually doing my p-chem homework

-Doing my p-chem homework (by the pool!)

-Roasting beets

-Failed attempts at both sewing and patching my bike tubes

 

I think I’ll be going to the Smokies again this weekend to see the fall colors and snazzy nature. Go Vols, amiright?

 

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