Fall '09: Week 1 in Review

Week 1 was a short week. Technically classes started on Thursday, but I went in Wednesday to talk to my new supervisor about what my research project was going to be about, and do various other administrative things.

So, here's the review:

Supervised study

  • Read the grant proposal for the project I'll be working on (invasion mechanisms of Salmonella
  • Found out which aspect I'll be working on
  • Signed and turned in all necessary forms and got approved for the course
  • Got a look at the confocal microscope I'll be working on. Confocal microscopes are really cool. You take a cell that has some proteins that have been marked with fluorescent markers, and it uses a laser to excite the markers in thin slices covering the whole cell, and then it uses the slices to build a 3-D image that you can then look at. *Very* exciting.
  • Was given two papers to read. Read the first and most of the second.

Animal Development
  • Going to be looking at morphological and molecular aspects of development
  • Prof acts like a teenybopper, anthropomorphises and makes cutesy statements about how chicks are easy model organisms for developments, "but I hope there aren't too many 'easy chicks' in here!"
  • Some history of the field
  • 250 people in this class, taught in one of the less comfortable auditoriums
  • Pretty sure I'm going to drop this one

Molecular Aspects of Plant Development
  • Prof is actually a grown-up, and expects us to be
  • About 30 people in the class
  • Learned about tools to track molecular events in cell at three levels:
    • Gene expression: take the promoter for the gene of interest, put a marker after it instead of the gene, put that complex in a vector and transfect the cell, scan for the marker. Marker is something that will fluoresce, like GFP, or GUS, which has an easy histochemical assay. Need to find out what "histochemical" means.
    • mRNA localization: take tissue, fix it in an RNA-preserving fixative, make labeled probes for the mRNA in question, marinate, wash, scan. Probes show up where the mRNA is.
    • Protein localization: There are two ways to do this.
      1. Immunolocalization: Fix tissue, make antibodies for the protein in question, marinate, wash. Then take other antibodies that bind to the conserved section of teh first antibodies and are tagged. Marinate, wash, scan. The tagged antibodies will show up where the protein is.
      2. Tagging: take the promoter/gene complex for the gene in question, stick the gene for a marker like GFP or GUS after it. Transfect the cell, scan for the marker. The marker will be attached to the protein and will show you where the protein is (unless the marker has interfered with folding or function of the protein).
  • Was assigned two papers for next class. Total of 33 pages of reading. Yeep!

And that's all the classes for this week. Because it was a short week I didn't have any classes for Community Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or Intro to Health Studies: Plagues and Peoples. I'll tell you all about it next week.

I'm also devising some good systems for organizing my life. I started a new major knitting project to bring to class with me, and I've realized that I'm going to be doing a buttload of article-reading this semester, and that's just as easy to do on a treadmill as at a desk, so maybe I'll spend less time sitting. We'll see.