The Final Adjustments to our craft

These past two weeks we went out to VIMS to continue changing out the parts for screen system. It proved to be tedious since we had to drill through our aluminum framing pieces while floating on the water. Luckily we were precise enough for everything to fit fine, but it could have been an issue if our screws did not fit correctly. In addition to securing the screens with an aluminum piece on top of them, we also had to make sure the spacing was correct. For that we used drop in fasteners that screwed in small pieces of angle iron that kept the PVC canes 6 inches apart. On our second trip we also took out the screens, cleared most of the algae off and secured them on the platform of the craft. Tomorrow we should be able to help take the craft out onto the river and install the screens back into the water. Once we’re out onto the water we will have to contend with turbulence from the river, currents, and anything else Mother Nature throws at us.

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I’m writing this blog post as I sit in lab during my last hour incubation period of my last CAT ELISA on the second to last day of the summer research term. This summer has been a roller coaster ride. I’ve experienced incredible highs thinking that an experiment would finally work with one small tweak to the procedure and dramatic lows upon spending nine hours on a small sample size and a tiny plate only to find that the ELISA was unsuccessful. At the very least, research this summer has allowed me to become quite familiar with the CAT ELISA procedure and I think all of the small errors and kinks, from inverting trypsin tubes when seeding plates to partially incubating plates at room temperature with lysis buffer to improve protein yields, have been worked out. If I continue CAT ELISAs in the Fall, I don’t think I’ll have to spend a lot of time trying to fix procedural problems. I consider working through the procedural problems alone to be a success regardless of how much, if any, data is collected from a modified procedure; however, it would be really nice to actually collect some data from a proper experiment at the end of this research term. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to note whether or not results from these ELISAs form a trend so hopefully a pattern will start to emerge in the Fall after more modified CAT ELISAs. On the upside, besides carrying a specialized knowledge of how to perform CAT ELISAs away from this term, I’ll be able to apply more universal techniques I’ve learned this summer to future lab work. I feel more confident in my flask-splitting and plate-seeding technique and also more comfortable with transfections. Now onto another success-defying CAT, the MCATs…