By Vanessa Phuong
There are a total of two reasons why Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favorite week days to roll out of bed, one: my first class starts at 1:00 in the afternoon, and two: that first class is Project Lab: Phage Hunting. Thus, this blog post here is dedicated to the latter, and also to reasons why other normally awesome things like finding forgotten bills in my pockets or orca shows at SeaWorld don’t even compare in awesomeness that is hunting for phages.
First of all, this course is only open to freshman, meaning that I and all the other students taking the course have had equivalent amounts of research experience–meaning hardly any useful research experience. No one has to feel ashamed for admitting that they are taking their maiden voyage into the sea of research, especially when they struggle with the Bunsen burner or streak straight through the agar in the plate (both of which I have done, whoops).
Secondly, if the students ever feel like they don’t know what in the world they are looking at on the agar plates, or even what they’re searching for, there’s always Dr. Schildbach or a TA within arm’s length, usually. Asking for help is strongly encouraged and no question goes unanswered. Furthermore, everyone gets to work at their own pace, so it really is okay if someone goes through the procedure with the vigor of a three-toed sloth and someone else breezes through with the velocity of Usain Bolt.
Thirdly, this course is the least sleep-inducing one out of all my courses. This might be the result of several different factors, like having to stand up for the majority of the class period instead of sitting, or not having to bulldoze through fifty minutes of lecture with a monotone professor. Or maybe it’s just the fact that learning how to isolate our own phages is actually incredibly entertaining in that by-golly-I’m-actually-doing-science-yessssss! kind of way. Although I’ve made my fair share of mistakes so far including accidentally dragging the sterile pipette across the table, pipetting a bubble bath’s worth of bubbles into my agar plates, and burning off a few strands of my hair, this experience so far has been the most entertainingly educational experiences of my college career, which isn’t saying much considering that it’s only been a month, but the sincerity is certainly there. 🙂
And lastly, what make this course so awesomely awesome are the individuals in it and the individualized attention we give each other. What an amazing bunch of people. Happy phage hunting!