Monday, July 12, 2010

A Look Back... Week 1 Reflection

Here are the questions posted in our journal assignment:

Who Introduced you to the laboratory space?
Two people introduced me to the laboratory space this week. One is a Post-doc named Carlos Lopez. A Post-doc, is someone who has already received their doctoral degree (i.e. Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, Doctoral degree or doctorate), but is now working in the lab doing research. Carlos walked John and I through the lab and showed us the equipment used in the lab and reviewed the protocols for how everything works. The second person who helped me learn my way around the lab was a woman named Chelsea Pereira. She just finished her undergraduate degree, but is continuing the research of her senior year design project this summer. Chelsea showed me the process of how they use the lab equipment.

Do you share a space or have your own space?
Our laboratory is a shared space. The lab requires swipe access to get into the laboratory; I need to swipe my ID card to gain access to the room. When you first walk in there is an office with desk and computers for the researchers and students to work on analysis of data and to complete additional research. Then the next room is the laboratory itself. There is a big black curtain that separates the preparation area from the area that uses lasers and LED lights. Some of the undergraduate students have to use space in a back room of the lab, which is where a graduate student named Alex is working on building additional equipment for the lab. My partner, John and I use the conference room on the 7th floor mostly to get our own preliminary "research" done on the lab itself and about the materials that we need to use.

What were the primary tasks you performed?
This week I mostly tried to research information about the research that the lab has already completed and I've done that by reading the published papers that the lab has produced. I've also done my own microbiology research so I can familiarize myself with the scale of the research and the science content behind the research.

What techniques have you learned?
I haven't learned very many techniques thus far because I've only made observations of the laboratory. To work successfully in this lab, you need to remember your chemistry and mathematics skills. When making solutions in the lab researchers need to keep track of their mathematics and show their work in their lab notebooks for how they came up with how much of each solute (what is being dissolved) and solvent (what is doing the dissolving) is needed to make a solution to be used in an experiment. There is also specific protocol for how to use each of the pieces of lab equipment, the spotter, the LED, the Laser, etc.

To what tools have you been introduced?
I've been introduced to the IRIS interferometer. (Details about this equipment to come)

What is the significance of the research?
John and I are working in the BSAIL lab and the system that we're going to be using used to be called the SRIB system, but it was recently changed to IRIS. The slang term for this lab is V-IRIS. Any guesses why? ... This lab works on viral detection (detection of viruses). Chelsea (the woman I mentioned earlier) is working with her lab partner to detect the virus, Hepatitis B in low amounts. John I, however are going to work on detecting bacteria using the IRIS system. The ultimate goal of this lab is to create a devise that can be patented and sold as a portable, affordable, and a system that can be used in the field.

What content knowledge is significant to know to perform research in the field or topic?
In this lab, the content knowledge necessary to perform this research is physics, chemistry, and biology (specifically microbiology).

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