By Billy Lu
As I started eating breakfast at the FFC today, I poured some syrup over my pancakes. Strangely, the oozing of the syrup over the pancake reminded me of agar spreading in a Petri dish, which reminded me of phage hunting, which reminded me to write this.
Okay, that didn’t really happen, but it sounded like a pretty cool way to start off my blog.
I’ve performed research during high school and thoroughly enjoyed it, so picking this class was a no-brainer for me over the summer. Those past research experiences obviously helped, as I was familiar with most the equipment in the lab on the first day. Even so, I still learned about more techniques, including plating and streaking. Anyway, I was really excited about the goal of the class, which was to isolate and sequence a unique phage from soil. I decided to dig up some soil from a park across from my house before I came to Hopkins. Unfortunately, packing for college took longer than I thought and I eventually dug up some dirt in front of my dorm.
The first few steps in isolating a phage included creating an enrichment culture and streaking a lot to isolate a plaque with its own distinctive morphology. After a couple of weeks in lab, I knew something was wrong because everything was going right for me. My enrichment culture looked great and all my streaks produced plaques with distinctive morphologies. Through my past research experiences I learned that experiments don’t usually work out the way it was imagined. My hunch was correct. Going into my last streak, my small round bulls-eye plaques turned into large crusty-like ugly bulls-eyes which liked to clump together. That was unexpected. After creating my MTL, MTL dilutions, HTL, HTL dilutions, the weird morphology remained. It gives me the creeps every time I look at it.
I am currently working on sending in my phage for Phage Olympics, and I am currently stuck on the name of my phage. I need the name to be a creative one, something no one else has thought before. After staring at the EM image of my phage, I realized they do look a lot like lollipops. And my last name is Lu…