By Deborah Chin
First semester was great. I didn’t know what I was doing at times, but I always finished the task at hand somehow. It felt good to actually be in the lab, put on my white coat and goggles, and begin pipetting solutions and buffers. Everything was hands-on and eventually I figured out why each procedure was needed and what they did in terms of my phage and its DNA in the big picture. We were all in a mad rush to make it to the end, to be eligible for Phage Olympics. Most of us made it, but only one came out standing as the winner. But all in all, the journey was fun.
The start of the second semester brought with it many hours of struggling on my laptop, with me staring at my computer screen in despair and confusion. There was the struggle of trying to download the programs and files, the struggle of trying to get phamerator to cooperate with me, the struggle to BLAST the genome, and finally the struggle to annotate a gene. After countless hours of reading through the DNA annotation guide and staring at a list of green and red gene listings in confusion, I have emerged from my cubicle in the library with what someone might call “annotations”. Might I take the risk in asking “What does it really mean to annotate a gene?” I think I may have done it, but I’m still not sure what exactly I have done. Well, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow (or today, that is) whether or not my struggles were in vain.