Moderator’s Note: This bit of brilliance was submitted nearly 3 months ago by Ms. Allyson Roberts. The delay, unintentionally long, was nevertheless intentional. Some might suspect it has to do with the multiple photos that show this moderator with the same dumb look on his face every time. (My wife tells me that I can’t take a good picture, and here’s your proof.) Not so. Truth is, anyone who can write a sonnet, in proper form, about a phage deserves some prime real estate right at the top of the blog. There was a rush of blog entries late last semester, though, and I had to clear them first. And then I forgot to post this entry. For about three months. Like I tell my phage-hunting students — go ahead and make fun, but I once had a memory like yours. What I don’t tell them is that I may have had the memory, but I was never as together and fun and cool as they. Yes, they are as nerdy as you’d think Hopkins students would be. But they are cool nerds.
By Allyson Roberts
As I left the Faculty-Student Interaction gingerbread house-making event on December 6th, 2012, I looked back once more to our table. There sat Dr. Schildbach and his daughter, surrounded by the mess we had all made. For a moment, I stood there, realizing that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to harass our professor for nearly two months, and I got sentimental. It wasn’t until that moment that I truly realized how big of a role Phage Hunting had in my life, and how much I would miss it over the holiday season.
I’ve changed significantly since I arrived in Baltimore nearly four months ago. A multitude of factors have contributed to that, of course, yet I truly believe that Phage Hunting has played the biggest role:
- On November 8th, when Emily (my best phage-hunting friend) and I lost our cherished DNA, we learned the unpredictability of science, the strength necessary for picking yourself up and fighting on to make up for lost time, and the indescribable tragedy that can come from losing your first-born DNA.
- On November 15th, as the Phage Olympics occurred, I learned the value of supporting your peers in the work they have done, the sense of community that Phage Hunting has presented me with, the feeling of pride that can only come from people appreciating your presentation’s love puns, and just how red Dr. Schildbach could turn when his favorite students repeatedly incorporated into their presentations photos of him, or of students mimicking him.
- On November 20th, 27th, and 29th, I learned that lab notebooks really are quite the hassle when you can’t take them outside of the lab, and how impossible it is to be both thorough and timely (although, in all honesty, I won’t be changing anything in regards to my documentation. Stubbornness is a virtue, or something).
- On November 29th, in my Existentialism class, I learned that the best time to write love poems about your phage is during a class about philosophy, in order to keep yourself awake and distracted.
- On December 6th, I learned about St. Nicholas day, and how kind Dr. Schildbach can be, underneath all of the sass. I learned that making necklaces of my HTL with my phage buddy Hannah was both the best and nerdiest thing I have done since coming to college. I learned that Dr. Schildbach really enjoys taking pictures with students. And I learned that, in the blink of an eye, you can go from collecting dirt outside of your dorm to realizing that your Phage Hunting experiences were half over. Ah, relativity.
Most mornings, I dreaded Phage Hunting. Or, at least, that it was at 9:00 in the morning. Yet, as the class progressed and I grew closer to my peers, I only half-grudgingly arrived at class. Most mornings, I couldn’t be happier to be in the lab. I spent a lot of mornings in lab doing assignments for my Japanese class while waiting for M. smeg and my phage to mix. I spent an even greater number of mornings giving Dr. Schildbach and our TA Norah sass. I spent every morning growing closer to my phage, learning more about research, and learning more about how life works. I’m certainly still not an expert, on anything (except maybe putting my gloves on), but I’m getting there. Slowly, but surely.
It’ll be a long time until I step foot in the lab again. That fact is truly saddening to me. But I know that the lab will be waiting for me. My DNA and phage will be waiting for me. Everything will continue just like it always has, and I’ll be right there in the middle of it, for as long as I can be.
And, finally, I present a sonnet (in true form, mind you!) about my one true love, FourStarNutty:
“A Love Sprung From Soil” by Allyson Roberts
From the outset, I have always loved you
My beautiful phage, born from Mother Earth
Agar plates, bulls-eye plaques, what can I do
But endlessly streak your essence, my mirth?
A truer bond lives not in this dull land
Than that between your capsid and my heart
EM brought your true essence to my hand
But DNA almost tore us apart
In losing you, I lost part of my soul
My life an agar plate lacking M. smeg
But our reunion brought me back to whole
A better life for which I cannot beg.
O, look to my lab notes and you shall see
The bond I share with my FourStarNutty.