Hello all! My name is Sylvanne Braganza, and I’m so glad to be able to experience TRIP this summer! Seriously, there’s nothing better I’d like to do with my vacation time than spend a few quality hours each week with some fruit flies (and my wonderful instructors and classmates too, of course). I’m not totally sure the flies share the same feelings of companionship that I feel though, considering how many I’ve decapitated with a razor blade, crushed with a pestle, drowned in ice, or simply murdered with FlyNap. Yup, it’s been a fun four weeks so far…
Flies are great; I love flies. I love how similar to humans they are, yet different in all the ways that matter to me. That’s what makes them so awesome. They have a shorter life cycle than humans, so I can measure their fertility (a crucial part of my experiment). They have sugar levels just like humans, so I can look at their glucose levels and metabolism rates (another part of my experiment). They have moods just like we do too! The best part about flies is how easy they are to control (you can’t really control humans so well; they’re so stubborn…you know, besides the ethics of it all). But on a more serious note, I love how easy it is to augment a fly’s diet, change their environment, or test different behaviors.
The first couple weeks of TRIP we got to play around with these different variables as we learned more and more about flies and the program and everything we could do for our projects (infinite possibilities, let me tell you). Like Sasha, that first week I also chose to add Valerian (an alternative medicine that aids in insomnia and anxiety) to my flies’ diets. However, I tested its effect on female fertility. Though I only ran one trial and this was just to get used to working with flies, I did get results. Valerian seemed to increase female fertility. I also tested the effect of constant darkness (which should also calm the flies) on female fertility. This also increased female fertility! I thought that was cool…and combined both Valerian and constant darkness in a third vial. It increased female fertility by a larger percentage! It felt good to actually reach a conclusion (though it was rudimentary and more trials would probably need to be done to prove anything). However, there were many failings along the way those first weeks.
This post is getting rather long, so I’d better save my failures and mishaps for another day. Look forward to it! And next time you see some fruit flies in your kitchen…be nice to them, they’re perfectly harmless.
Author: Sylvanne Braganza