By Winston Jin
It seems like it was yesterday that I dug up pieces of dirt from the AMR II courtyard and looked like a crazy person in front of my peers during the first week of classes. Here I am now, sitting in phage lab for the last time in 2013, holding the product of a semester’s hard work in a micro-centrifuge tube, and writing about my experiences as a professional phage hunter (at least I’d like to think so) at the end of my first semester of my freshman year in college.
They say time flies when one’s having fun. That was certainly the case with my time here at Phage Hunting lab. Thankfully, all of my experiences were recorded in my lab notebook. It’s the first time I’ve kept a personal diary of my feelings every other day (trust me, it’s nothing short of an emotional one). My mood of the day depended on how my phage would behave, and I must say, Wentao (my phage) has taken me on an emotional roller coaster ride all semester long, with the scariest descents on two occasions.
The first of the spine tinglers took place when a completely new “target” morphology showed up in all of my MTL dilution plates, which forced me to redo the entire dilution until I obtained a consistent plaque morphology. This incident has had a traumatic effect on my psyche. Ever since then I would streak all of my plates mindlessly round after round, paranoid that another mysterious morphology would show up. Thankfully none ever did.
The second of the heart droppers occurred when my NanoDrop analysis showed an absurdly low number of DNA found in my purified sample. Challenged by adversity, I performed DNA purification two additional times, but the outcomes stayed disappointing. Although the results were less than satisfactory, I’ve learned a valuable lesson of coping with failure, something I’ve never been good at.
Phage hunting lab has been a thrilling ride to say the least. But with the accompaniment and support from my fellow phage hunters and instructors, it was indeed a fulfilling experience. I look forward to embarking on another ride next semester!