Nearing the End

By Jessica Kahan

When I wrote my previous post, I was new to the lab and a little apprehensive about how the second half of the class would go–I needn’t have worried! With the help of my TA Katie and the other students in my class, I successfully isolated my phage without any difficulty. Now, the only remaining step is for me to name my phage, a task that is much harder than it sounds. Perhaps it’s naive of me to think that my phage is groundbreaking, but I am very proud of what I have accomplished this semester, and therefore need to decide on the perfect name . . .

Over the past few weeks, I have learned quite a bit. I now understand what a titer is, and why it is necessary to streak plaques many times when isolating a phage. The lab techniques that seemed so difficult at first, like opening tubes with one hand while balancing a pipette with the other, and my fear of catching my hair on fire from my Bunsen burner flame, no longer weigh so much on my mind. It is a great feeling to be comfortable in lab.

Although I successfully isolated my phage, the term is not long enough for me to play with its DNA and verify that it was discovered by me. Despite this unfortunate circumstance, I am now confident that should the chance to work with DNA arise in the future, I will not be too nervous to try it out since I know I am capable of learning quickly in lab.

With the dates for my final paper and poster presentation swiftly nearing, I can’t help but reflect on my experience this semester in Phage Hunting. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable class, and I can say with certainty that I learned much more about bacteria and viruses from a few weeks in lab then I would have ever learned in a classroom setting. What’s more, I gained experience about what it’s like to do wet-lab research, which will hopefully help me to gain access to other labs in my following three years at Hopkins. Many thanks to Dr. Fisher, Dr. Schildbach, and Katie for your help and support throughout the semester. It is obvious how invested you are in your students, and I can’t wait to see you in the class or lab in the years to come!

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