iCLEM Week Seven, by PeiWen Xiao

Monday, July 31, 2017

Today marks the seventh week of our program, the completion of our overall research and the beginning of our presentations. On Wednesday next week, we have to give a presentation about what we did in the program. We spent some time organizing and outlining what we should include in the presentation and dividing it into eight sections so that each of us is in charge of one section. We had a difficult time getting started but we managed to complete a rough draft of our slides by the end of the day.

Aside from the presentation, we will also be doing some lab work later this week. Jesus, our science adviser, introduced us to a mini experiment that gives us the opportunity to transform E. coli with a cellulase gene that involves Gibson cloning instead of the TOPO protocol, using taq polymerase, which we had previously done. Other than a brief moment in the lab preparing the plasmids for Gibson cloning, we were basically stationed at our computers trying to finish our section of the presentation for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The majority of our morning was spent revising our presentations for the first mock presentation after lunch. The teachers encouraged us to present our sections to each other as partners. We also spent some time in the lab transforming the E. coli that we had cloned using the Gibson method yesterday. While we waited for the incubation process to finish, we went to a presentation that a scientist gave on his research. Needless to say, I had difficulty understanding what was being presented as it was quite heavy on scientific terms but I did manage to learn that acetyl CoA plays an important role in many biochemical reactions, including metabolism.

After lunch, we had our first mock presentation. According to the teachers and the science advisers, most of us didn’t connect our parts of the presentation to the overall goal, so we spent the rest of the day asking for help and revising our slides.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Like the previous day, we started the day by spending some time on our presentation, modifying our slides, practicing it verbally and coordinating with each other. In the afternoon, we had another mock presentation. Contrary to my peers who are more confident this time around, I felt more nervous than before; my legs were practically shaking the moment before it was my turn. Thankfully, my voice didn’t shake or crack as terribly as I anticipated but I kind of rushed through my section. The science advisers and teachers said it was slightly better than the one we did yesterday but we still have a lot of room for improvement.

Halfway through the afternoon, we had an interview workshop with Annie, one of the teachers. We discussed the ways we should prepare for the interview including the dress attire, handshakes and follow ups. The dress attire loosely corresponds to what is expected of us in our presentation next week. I am kind of scared for the practice interview on Friday because I know I will get nervous.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the morning, Phil, a Post-Doctoral Researcher from the Technology Division at JBEI gave us a talk on 3D printing. He described how JBEI uses 3D printing to create glass plates with channels, only a few nanometers thick, that scientists could use in their experiments to improve the overall efficiency of their research. We then had a tour of the 3D printing facilities at JBEI. Phil then ran the program for printing the clips we would be working with later. Some of us were tempted to record the whole process but we soon gave up when we realize that it would take three hours to complete. I had heard of 3D printing before but this was my first time witnessing it in action. I find it amazing that the 3D printer could print objects of such intricacy.

Today was also our last day in the lab. We did a mini prep for the samples that we transformed earlier this week, which only two had bacteria growth. But to compensate, our science adviser Jesus prepared mystery sequences for us to mini prep. We completed it in an hour or so, which was quite efficient for us considering the mini prep that we had done previously took two hours. We then used the nano-drop for the last time in the program and we all had pretty good results.

After lunch, we continued the 3D Printing project with Phil and proceeded on to creating our own makeshift microscope using glass beads and the 3D printed clip. The makeshift microscope goes over the camera of a phone and acts as the lens while the glass beads magnifies the objects. Practically everyone was struggling to polish their clips and securing the beads onto it. When we finally managed to do so, we had fun using it and looking at various slides. It was cool that we were able to create a decently functioning microscope considering how simplistic it was.

3D printed clips


Frog blood


Friday, August 4, 2017

It has become a routine for us to spend the entire morning working on our presentations and present it to the teachers and science advisers in the afternoon. Compared to the beginning of the week, we had all improved but there are still some things we had to fix. Hopefully, we will have this presentation perfected by next week. After the presentation and feedback, we had mock interviews with the teachers and evaluated each other’s interviews. In this mock interview, my nervousness really affected me so I have to find a way to control it in order to improve my performance in future interviews.