By Emily Nordquist
Since the first week of school, Phage Hunting has been my favorite class. Even though it’s sometimes a struggle to get up for a 9 am class, I’ve always been excited to get to the lab. But last week, something terrible happened.
I was right on schedule in class. I had my high titer lysate purified and titered, I had finished electron microscopy, extracted DNA, and was well on my way to running a restriction enzyme gel. Then, on Thursday, November 8th, my tiny microcentrifuge tube, full of the DNA that was the product of all my work in the class, disappeared. Panicking, I went to look for my big blue capped high titer lysate tube, which had been stored in the fridge. After frantically searching, I realized my high titer lysate was gone too. How could this have happened? I still don’t know. In a short hour my dreams of winning the phage Olympics came crashing down. I was left with only a week to make up a month’s worth of work. However, like a true phage hunter, I persevered.
On that same day, I replated my web plates made with my medium titer lysate, hoping to extract a new high titer lysate and then, from that, new DNA. The next Tuesday, disaster struck again. My new plates had also gone missing. Fortunately, my restriction digest microcentrifuge tubes were still present, so I was able to run a restriction digest gel and will hopefully have some idea of what my DNA is like. For now, I’m just going to keep working with the goal of somehow making it into the Phage Olympics.
Even with all the stress that Phage Hunting is currently adding to my life, it’s still a class I really enjoy going to. When I graduate, I want to go into research. I was scared that I wouldn’t like Phage Lab and that I would have to change my whole career idea, but instead the lab has only reinforced my love of science. This is the first time I’ve ever been in a lab and not known ahead of time the outcome of my experiment. This is both a blessing and a curse, as I have seen. One thing that keeps me going right now is just remembering the first time I ever saw plaques on a plate, after we did our enrichment cultures. It was amazing, to think that I had taken a spoonful of dirt and found life inside of it. No matter what ends up happening with my lost DNA, I have gained invaluable research and lab experience in this class that is hard to come by freshman year of college. Thanks, phages. (And Dr. Schildbach, Dr. Fisher, and Katie).