Week 6: Gin Khaow

Around 11:40am the murmurs around the office start to pick up. From our room on the second floor we can hear people slowly saying, “Gin Khaow? Gin Khaow.” Gin Khaow literally translates to eat rice, but metaphorically means any act of eating food. In Lao culture, pretty much every dish is paired with sticky rice, which I presume is how the phrase developed. Sticky rice is a more important utensil here than knives (which are rare). It’s common to dip your sticky rice into the “family style” dishes crowding the table.

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Week 6

I met with my advisor this week to discuss the strange results in the M9 media and he provided more insight into the possible reasons for the results I got. He seemed to think that it was possible that the 0.5% ethanol concentration was too high for the V. fischeri, since I wasn’t giving them extra nutrients and they had not previously been exposed to ethanol (I used new cultures rather than the ones that I had tested in ethanol in my other experiments). He suggested trying the M9 experiment at the 0.5% and 0.25% concentrations without ethanol to see if there might be at least one mutant, and then transferring any bacteria that does grow into new test tubes containing M9 with the same concentration of M9 in order to allow the bacteria to evolve in the presence of M9. He also suggested a separate procedure in case nothing grows in the current M9, wherein I’d expose bacteria to ethanol and allow it to go through several evolutions before transferring it to the M9 media. This week, the squid eggs arrived in the lab, which will need to be hatched and raised before any experiments on squid-Vibrio symbiosis can be done (which would be a future phase of my experiment). Since this week was short due to Independence day, I was not able to complete any experiments but I did set up an experiment testing all strains that we have in the lab in 0.5% ethanol and a selection of strains in 0.25% ethanol, both in M9 media. I’ll be taking readings for these experiments next Monday.

Week 5

This week I continued my experiments testing V. fischeri strains in 4.0-4.9% ethanol. I tested the strains SAIG and SL518 in 4.0-4.9% ethanol. This week, I also performed a five day experiment with M9 medium containing both glycerol and 0.5% ethanol, which gave some strange results. In theory, the M9 media with glycerol should contain enough glycerol to allow the V. fischeri to grow to a point considered “significant growth”, since the glycerol contains a carbon source that this bacteria is equipped to use. However, my data showed significant growth in some but not all tubes, and the results were inconsistent even within a specific strain. I only tested a few strains just to see what the overall results might be, so I can’t compare different strains’ growing ability, but the strains that I did use were the strains that could grow at higher percentages of ethanol in LBS. My hypothesis as to why they didn’t grow as well as expected was that the presence of extra nutrients in the LBS allows the bacteria to expend the extra energy reducing the ethanol toxicity in some form. This process that would not be as easy to perform in the M9, since the M9 does not contain any extra nutrients and requires the bacteria to metabolize a small set of ingredients into whatever they need to grow. If this is the case, my next thought was that reducing the concentration of ethanol in the M9 media might work better. Another possibility, of course, is that I made an error in the making of the M9 and not all nutrients were available to the bacteria. Either way, next week’s experiments will include M9 at the 0.5% ethanol concentration and the 0.25% ethanol concentration to see if either one performs better.

Reflections on Mu: More than a Cow Sound (Week 7)

What is “mu”?

Spelled like a Greek letter found in calculus equations and often heard on Old McDonald’s farm, mu – like Transformers – is much more than meets the eye (and ears). More accurately, it is much less too! In Japanese, mu means “no” or “nothing” but even this explanation falls far short of what mu really is.

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Week 5 at the National Assembly for Wales

This week I’ve mostly focused on wrapping up the third part of my long-term research project. I did some work on rough sleeping solutions, housing first program, children who leave foster care dropping into homelessness and solutions for eradicating homelessness from the root. Seeing how interested I was in the meeting I attended last week with the Builder’s Association, my AM took me along to another meeting this week about decarbonisation in Welsh homes. The stakeholders had prepared an incredibly detailed report about how this could be accomplished over the next thirty years, by drawing in various authorities and individuals to create a new wave of sustainable building. Not only would such a scheme heavily decrease energy usage and help alleviate fuel poverty but, coupled with grid decarbonisation, would be incredibly beneficial in helping Wales reach its carbon emission targets. I also attended a fascinating event on the pledge for carbon neutrality in Wales. The event was hosted by Extinction Rebellion and was incredibly interesting for me, as someone who doesn’t know much about the organisation, to witness this movement first hand. A general consensus was that the government was moving in the right direction and very committed and open to tackling climate change head-on. The purpose of this event, then, was to create a list of suggestions and demands under the sponsorship of various AMs that the Welsh Assembly could consider.

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