The Beginning Stages: Reading, exploring, practicing- Post #2

The past two weeks my mind has been occupied not with my own brilliant ideas, but with the brilliant intellectual research contributions of my predecessors. As with any research project, especially to one relatively new to a lab, I have to learn all about the background information and the fundamental concepts surrounding my research project. This synthetic review of lab literature not only helps me understand the conceptual side of my research project, but it will undoubtedly keep me from making mistakes in my method and the execution of experiments testing my hypotheses.

Apart from reading though, I have been getting accustomed to the mouse trapping area I will be working in by exploring the area. Mosquitoes and ticks are the biggest enemies I will encounter I think apart from the raccoon that eats the mice in the traps. I was thinking of catching the raccoon with a large trap. However, there are some logistical problems if I do decide to catch the raccoon.

In the lab, I did a practice run of brain sectioning. I used an excised brain fixed with paraformaldehyde  by another research student in the lab. I used a sliding, freezing microtome. The brain is put on a stage and surrounded by neg 20 gel that freezes at -20 degrees Celsius. The brain is held steady by the frozen gel as an extremely sharp blade cuts micrometer thick slices of brain. The slices are then preserved in antifreeze until they are ready to be used in the next procedure called immunocytochemistry that I am currently practicing and will describe more in detail in the next post.