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Getting to work in the radioactivity hot lab

June 24, 2011

Week 2: June 13 – June 17, 2011

Monday, June 13

This was the day that I could finally work in the radioactivity hot lab. I finished all my required training and finally received my own TLD, thermoluminescent dosimeter. A TLD is the primary form of personal radiation exposure monitoring device used at BNL. In the hot lab, Doug and I got to learn how to run the instruments including the growth chamber, hot oil bath, and computers to run the programs. We got to go over the checklist of equipment for our experiment. We learned how to do the plant extraction procedure. This procedure occurs after the plant is exposed to radioactive carbon dioxide for one hour. Abbie demonstrated for us how to analyze the extracts using thin layer chromatography (TLC). This is how we can compare the sugars the plant is making under different experimental conditions. At the end of the day, we learned how to transplant Arabidopsis seedlings. I had a homework assignment that was due the next day; to draw chemical structures of the chemicals we were studying.

Tuesday, June 14

Dr. Ferrieri, Abbie, Doug, and I discussed data reduction analysis in the morning. We learned how to do data for the TLC imaging with a program called Image Reader. We also discussed the data on the amount of radioactive carbon that is fixed by photosynthesis and exportation to other locations in the plant. Later in the afternoon, Abbie demonstrated solid phase extraction for phenolics to Doug and me, as well as the computer program, Q Scritphen115 that is used in that analysis. I think the machine, Picker Counter, for this program is the same idea as using a spectrophotometer. Abbie also showed us how to use the plant imaging machine and Image Reader. The lessons took the whole day and I thought about how time always goes by fast when I am enjoying the science.

Wednesday, June 15

It was time to start our first experiment for this study which was the experimental control. For this experiment, we used three different time points after exposure to the radioactive carbon: 2 hours (10:30 am), 6 hours (2:30 pm), and 24 hours (next day 10:30 am.)  There are two parts for this experiment that need to be done in the same time. My part was to collect leaves to do plant imaging and collect roots and leaves and place them in vials for the Picker Counter. For my part, Dr. Ferrieri taught and demonstrated this procedure for time point one in the morning. He explained the procedure thoroughly so I could understand what needed to be done and take notes on all the steps in order for me to do that on my own later in the day. For the second time point, Dr. Ferrieri told me that I would do that procedure on my own while he looked over my shoulder. I kind of got nervous about doing that. I made my own checklist with all the steps for that procedure during lunchtime. When we did the second time point, I did everything well except for one mistake. I forgot to give two specific leaves to Abbie for plant extraction. I was having a nervous breakdown since that step was one of the most important parts to get data. But I always remember this quote every time I make mistakes. “Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” – Franklin P. Jones. It is a good thing we are doing multiple trials for the control.

Thursday, June 16

That day was the experimental study. Abbie demonstrated how to add in the MeJA (methyl jasmonate) to the leaves. It is the same procedure as the control experiment; however, the plants were exposed to MeJA as the experimental value. We did time point 1 and time point 2. There were no mistakes in time point 1 as Dr. Ferrieri was with me. For time point 2, Dr. Ferrieri was there in the lab, but did not look over my shoulder. So I did the experiment by myself for time point 2 and did everything well. I did learn from my mistake.

Friday, June 17

We did time point 3 for the experimental study. Abbie and Dr. Ferrieri had to leave early for errands so I did some things around the lab, like transplanting more Arabidopsi, working on some thin layer chromatography, and developing two sugar plates.


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