A few weeks ago, I shared with you all my idea to study water quality in the school district’s effect on the gut microbiome. This project was inspired by the Flint Water Crisis as well as my own experiences in urban and suburban high schools. During my freshman year, I went to a suburban high school before transferring to Roxborough. Prior to my time at Haverford, my suburban school, I had only gone to intercity schools with limited funding so I knew about the extreme differences in funding well before reentering the school district. However, upon starting at Roxborough, I truly began to take note of the differences between the schools, including the difference in water taste and quality. At Haverford, it didn't matter what fountain you used, the water tasted the same. However, at Roxborough only the water coming from the filtration fountains tasted okay. Because of these differences and my love for bacteria and disease, I figured testing water quality through the gut microbiome was a great choice for my project.
TRIP was such an amazing experience and I had a blast meeting everyone! The lab was always buzzing (see what I did there?) and it was so fun to sort flies with everyone at the CO2 pads. A fair warning to everyone applying to TRIP: sorting flies will simultaneously be the best and worst experience you have in the lab.
After a bittersweet last day in the lab, my TRIP experience is near over. All the train rides, homework, calculations, and flies are behind me. However, all the knowledge that I have gained and relationships that I have made will never be lost. After the first week, where keeping on top of the homework was not my strong suit, I never thought that I would be able to finish anything in the intensive lab, but with the help of Dr. Leystra and Dr. Purdy, my experiment was a success! Let's take a look into exactly what was a success, what wasn’t, and how I learned from the amazing experience in the TRIP Lab.
My experiment was set up to answer the question, does omeprazole have any long term side effects? I take omeprazole to help treat my Eosinophilic Esophagitis, so I wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be any major unknown side effects. The Larval Locomotion with Methyl Blue assay was the perfect experiment to use to answer my question. How it works is on a 10 cm x 15 cm strip of thermal paper, I spread out five larvae and painted them with a 0.2% methyl blue dilution. The larvae would leave a trail on the paper showing exactly where they went over a 10 minute period. I then used a software to measure out the distance and used the average distance traveled per condition to determine whether or not the larvae were healthy. I used a control condition, and then by using 2 solutions, I made the equivalent to 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg, and 120 mg of omeprazole for flies and put it into their food. The question was successful overall, and depending on how you look at it not so good news - The higher the dose the larvae were given, the less average distance they traveled.
And so now, at the end of it all, what have I learned? To be honest, I will have to see what I learned when I get thrown into another lab experience. Testing my skills such as pipetting, calculations, communications, and clarity, are all going to be important, and that's not to mention getting to the lab on time, having all my work done for the day, finding time to eat and drink, which are all just as important. But there is no doubt in my mind that TRIP has better prepared me for any science lab that I will see in the future. If I could say one thing to my week one self, I would tell him to put his head down and get to work, because TRIP is not a cakewalk.