Research progress for summer 2014

My research has been steadily progressing this summer. For the first few weeks in lab I made sure that all the solutions that I will need were prepared and ready to use. I also made sure that all the materials I will need to begin my experimentation on cells were readily available. So far, my experiments are straightforward in the sense that I am following a very organized repeatable procedure. For example, for step one I grow the cells I am using to a high density; for step two I then transfer the cells to a set of plates where I can isolate and experiment on them; for step three, after experimentation, I then look at them through a  microscope to see the results of my experimentation.

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Week 1: Roots of Environmental Awareness

The Valley, the colloquial name given to the stretch of Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, Colorado by the people who live there, has fertile soil in more ways than one. With an incredible amount of activity centered around gardening and environmental awareness in this area, it certainly feels like this region is a hot-spot for investigating how individuals and communities begin to develop environmental awareness. Carbondale, for a town with ‘carbon’ in its name, ironically seems to be the most sustainable of the towns. But regardless of the impression its name invokes, it certainly does, from my impression of the town after a two-day visit, seem to be the shining diamond of the valley in terms of ecological awareness. For a town with the population size of a small college campus, it contains the largest communal gardens I have seen in person. Two of these gardens were run by communal organizations, the larger one being supported by church members. One garden I helped weed and plant in during my visit was a hybird communal-and-education-based garden, with its location right next to the Carbondale high school providing a perfect opportunity for a hands-on education in cultivation. It not only contained a wide diversity of plant life, but also a geodesic dome and a second greenhouse currently under construction. The final garden I visited illustrated the effect a few dedicated individuals can have as it, sitting in the heart of Carbondale, was just an empty dirt lot and an unintentional mud pit two years ago.

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Parvalbumin Immunostaining

To effectively section the brains, we cryogenically froze and preserved them. After sectioning, we identified tissue sections around the target region based on hippocampal development from the hundreds of slices we made. We also selected tissues anterior and posterior to the target region, which we identified again based on hippocampal development, which was greater in posterior regions and less defined in anterior regions. When it came time to stain and plate the tissues, we repeatedly rinsed them in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) buffer in order to remove any residue from the freezing, in which the brain was glued down.

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Electrocatalysts Week 1

Exciting and tiring are the two words I can use to describe the first two weeks of research. I can say that forty-hour weeks are filled with much more work than I initially believed. Despite the number of things that need to be completed, I honestly believe that the other eight people doing research in the same lab help vary the days through group lunches, lab music, and goofy conversations. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.

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