By Philip Lin
During the first semester, Phage Hunting seemed like perfect class. It was interesting, engaging, hands-on, and definitely worth the 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM labs. I had the opportunity to grow my very own phage from the soil I gathered. I enriched it, streaked it, T-streaked it, plated it, flooded it, MTL’d it, HTL’d it, Titer Assayed it, EM’d it, and verbed a lot more nouns to my little phage. I even got to wear an awesome coat – that wasn’t made out of paper-cloth. *cough* Chem lab *cough* In the end, it was so totally worth it when I saw the electron microscopy of my cute little phage. The accumulation of all that lab work in the lab gave me a sense pride and accomplishment. I hoped it would be the same way in the second semester.
Suffice to say, this semester what not what I was expecting. Although I knew beforehand that in the second semester, we would be focusing on the Altwerkus genome, I didn’t realize what that entailed. I felt that these first few weeks of class have been rather dull. Basically, what we’ve accomplished so far was talk about phages and DNA, read some (very confusing) papers, and downloaded software (Windows and Linux) for DNA Master and Phamerator. I know that we will be starting the DNA annotating of Altwerkus, and that this is simply another facet of bacteriophage discovery. I miss the wet labs and the hands-on practical experience of working in a microbiology lab. It’s just that the overall feel of the course seemed rather different in this second semester.
However, I also have hope. I hope that things will get better, more interesting, and more fun. After the annotation process, we will have the opportunity to work on our own independent experiments. In addition to getting practical experience with creating and doing an experiment, we will also have the opportunity to play with our phages once again. So, until then, I have hope that all will be well.