My name is Angela Encerrado, I am a rising senior in the program of Environmental Science/Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso. During my time at UTEP I have been doing research in EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals). During this summer, I will be interning with the NEWT program, working in Dr. Pedro Alvarez's reserach laboratory at Rice University, in Houston, Texas. Throught this blog I will like to share my summer experience, so feel free to reach out at ant time with comments or questions at Angela.M.Encerrado@rice.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week we start wrapping up the results from all of the experiments. Collecting the data, and arranging it in an organize way. creating graphs for our results, checking the photographs from the different microscopes, and planing the last experiments. This past week I learned to how to synthesize some of the nano-materials that are use in the laboratory to conjugate to the phages. I also conjugate my phages to different materials and test them in a bacteria library. Only one more week and the program will be over. I have a mixture of feelings between wanting to go back and see my family, and not wanting to leave Rice to continue with the research.
This past week was a hard week. Frustration is a thing that all scientist must learn to cope with, and this week I had a taste of it. The experiments we performed, did not showed the expected results, therefore they had to be repeated many times. Dealing with not having the expected results, thinking of ways to fix it, and trying to stay motivated, was not easy. This was my hardest week until now. Nevertheless, not everything was lost, because we were able to get good images from the microscope, of the phage conjugated with the materials. The plans now, are to start the writing portion of my project and bring together all the results from the previous experiments, and the new experiments.
The first month of our time at Rice is over, and it does not seems like a month has pass. I have been working so hard in learning all the techniques and developing my project that time has just flyby. I have learned about the use of different instruments, different techniques when platting, ways to analyze DNA, and how to prepare agar. This week I started discussing with my mentor, the analyzes that my project was missing. Next week we will further discuss the topic, and start the writing of my report.
In the weekend, I had the chance to get to know my friends from the NEWT program better. Tensae, Evelyn and I, decided to take the metro and go to explore the city. I am glad to say that I will not only get an amazing learning experience out of this program, but also awesome friends.
This past week I analyzed my samples using the fluorescence microscope. The next picture is an image of the phages that I had isolated on week two. We do this test to check mostly that the phages are in the stock solution and review also the abundance. We where able to see different layers crossing throughout the sample, containing a good abundance of phages. After this we started the union of the phages with the different materials such as Fe-Cs, F-N, and others. Once combined, they were tested to check the phage abundance and also plated together with different bacteria.
This past week my mentor teach me how to isolate phages, in order to make my own phage stock solution. First we started by cultivating the a bacteria together with an specific phage, after that we plate both and left them overnight in the 26C fridge. The next day we separate the phage out from the agar and the bacteria throughout the use of different procedures to purify our phage. This method allowed us to cultivate phages with a wide host range. By the end of the week we were able to isolate two phages, and create two phage stocks solutions, that I will later use for other experiments. During this week I also had the opportunity to learn about the real-time quantitative PCR, and learn how to use an electrostatic force microscope.
During the weekend I was able to assist to the Houston Ballet and also visit the Galleria mall, with other students.
In our first day, me and Evelyn woke up really early to start our NEWT internships. We went early to breakfast and by 9 in the morning we went looking for our respective laboratories. We found out that we work in the same building, in the same floor, really close to each other. We had a great week, just fitting a little to adjust to the weather, and the hour difference. My first day at the laboratory I assist to a safety training, to be able to enter the laboratory. The following days, I focus on learning their techniques, machinery, and procedures. I am working with Ping, whom is a graduate student at the laboratory, he teach me every technique, and then let me try to do the techniques on my own. I also got to know awesome people living in Martel College, that are from different parts of the world, and even get to know the city a little bit better. I look forward for Monday, to learn new techniques and refresh last week’s acquired knowledge.
I got my luggage ready a week ago, and now that I am about to leave, I start to feel the nerves. I left El Paso with a hot and dry weather, and came to a rainy day in Houston, which has come as a blessing from the skies, but my hair is still getting used to it. I meet my roommate Evelyn, which is in the NEWT program as well, and we went to eat at the South servery, and got our meal cards and keys to our room. Evelyn is from El Paso, but she studies at ASU. I am really exited to start this adventure, and get to know the laboratory were I will be working, and the people with whom I will be working with. I am trilled and ready to step out of my comfort zone, and get the most out of this amazing experience.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” -Brian Tracy-