Working like a madman.
Last weekend my supervisor calls me into the office. It seems that the lab was getting a new 4th year student doing their undergrad thesis in micro, and I would have to show her the ropes. He threw a couple of ideas my way for a potential project for her to work on, but they were all very different (i only remeber one, and it had something to do with tracking the movement of ciliates in soil and their potential to help in bioremediation). He also told me he had something new for me to do. Sort of related to wastewater treatment, and pretty interesting but also “technically, very difficult.” The short of it is that I’ll be blasting Tetrahymena with UV rays and studying how they’re affected, what changes happen, and how it affects their inactivation of viruses (which is what i’ve been doing up until now).
So here’s a little bit on UV rays. The sun craps out UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-C, the most dangerous to biological systems, is largely blocked by the atmosphere. it is, however, used in a germicidal protocol in certain types of water treatment and in fancy buildings (expensive aaaaand probably unnecessary). it’s heavy duty stuff because it’s very high energy and the lamps are quite expensive. i don’t use UV-C. UV-A is UV for sucks. It’s the least harmful and penetrates deep into skin, due to a very long wavelength. So it won’t burn your skin, but it does cause wrinkles and cancer. we have the lamps for UV-A, but we’re not using them cause they’re pretty weak. Now, UV-B! That’s where the action is. UV-B is energetic enough to excite the DNA molecules in skin cells. Thymine, one of the four nucleosides that code for amino acids, will dimerize with other Thymines (i.e. bind together), making thymidine dimers. These screw normal DNA functions and eventually result in skin cancer.
I’ve managed to get a hold of a UV-B lamp but haven’t the foggiest of what sort of set-up I’ll have to jury-rig to be able to blast my cells (I’ll probably have to expose cells for about an hour at a time, and I can’t bloddy-well roll up a sleve and hold the lamp over a flask, can I ??). A friends of mine joked that any good scientist worth a hill of beans has to challenge cancer and he made a joke about scientific cancer, that we were referencing all night; hence the post title from the other day.
The end of last week, the boss also tells me we can get another highschool volunteer. The thing with them is that you can’t really expect them to get the really complicated stuff down because it’s just too far over their heads (aaaaaaand I’m a really crappy teacher). So I came up with a super-
repetitive, tedious, time-consuming simple project for them to do. Test the effects of mixing various painkillers and antidepressants in Tetrahymena media. It’s also relevant to my project because all of the drugs that we’d be using are commonly found in sewage, so their effects could be influencing biological processing of contaminants.
All looked well, until this morning when i found out there will be no highschool student. Sorry Mr.Marcel, but you’ll be cramming another new project into your 7-days-a-week science schedule. great. On the brightside, I think I’ve been fucking up pretty much everything in my life that isn’t science related. So looks like I’m staying well on track to being the old, single, lab-rat we all know I’ll ultimatly become.