Transitioning from Wet Lab to Computer lab, and then back again

By Celina Cisneros

The transition from wet lab to computer lab was quite a rocky one. Even before the start of the semester, I sat frustrated and confused as I attempted to install numerous computer programs that I would soon need for annotating the genome of our phage Olympian “Phatniss”. After sifting through seemingly endless directions in an attempt to install Windows on my Mac, I accepted defeat and started the first day of second semester Phage Lab, unprepared and exasperated. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one! Finally, after several days of screaming at our computers and pressing lots of buttons, we had DNAmaster up and running.

The following weeks would be spent learning about the technological side of biological research, as we began to annotate the genome of Phatniss. Continuing with the theme of frustration, annotating the genome would not be without its own trials and tribulations. The apex of this frustration was reached one night after finishing the annotations of my assigned 10 genes. Content, and ready to hit the hay, I mindlessly close DNA master, deleting all of the work I had just done. Sitting in shock as I realized what I had just done, I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t yell at the computer, it was my fault. Finally, after taking time to accept what I had just done, I opened up DNA master once again and redid all of the annotations. If I had to give one piece of advice to those taking phage lab next year I would tell them one thing: REMEMBER TO SAVE.

With that set side, although doing annotations is not the most stimulating of experiences, it gave me the ability to work with many different programs that provide interesting information about phage. It made me realize that although wet lab work is much more exciting, computer lab work is just as important, if not more. In the computer lab, you take the physical results from the wet lab and you learn about what you were working with. Without data gathered in computer lab, our results in wet lab would be meaningless!

Now, as we near the end of the semester, we have returned back to the wet lab to conduct our own independent phage projects. Originally, I had planned on annotating the genome of my phage, however since the sequence won’t be completed in time, I have decided to test how varying salt concentrations affect plaque survival. To be honest, I was slightly relieved that I would not solely be annotating my genome. I was a bit tired of staring at DNAmaster, and as I walked back into lab I realized how much I had missed my lab coat and gloves! As the spring semester of phage lab comes to a close, I have realized that although in this class I have had more than enough moments of frustration, the good moments far outweigh the bad.

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