Monday was pretty cool. A few students have high-titer lysates and are ready to start DNA preps. But first, they got to stain their samples and image them with the Electron Microscope (EM). EM is a powerful technique that few undergraduates get to use so this is a big deal for our students. We are lucky to have the Integrated Imaging Center right next door and wonderful faculty and staff there who are great at imaging and teaching. Anyway, I was in lab and heard that the first phages were being viewed next door, so I immediately left to check them out. Derek’s were up first and they were very cool. I’ll let him describe them in detail later, but trust me they were cool. Next up was Caryn’s sample. Erin helped her get it set up and started zooming in closer and closer until… I let out a gasp and said “There they are!” with an amount of enthusiasm that elicited laughter from the Phage Hunters. They are so jaded! I thought it was very exciting.
The students have embraced the metaphor of parenthood when it comes to their phages and the EM was like getting an ultrasound. You know something is growing, but only in that dark room with the black and white image on the screen do you get to see the little guy (or girl, or guys or girls).