It seems like only yesterday since I walked into this program, but time flies when you are having a good time. Despite my incessant yawning every morning for the past 4 weeks (sorry, Dr. Purdy), I am so far having an immense amount of fun and learning a whole lot with my peers.
In order to eclose out of my rookie shell, I had to go through a couple steps of learning about fruit flies, assays, lab materials and techniques, and presentation skills. This was all encompassed in my first experiment: testing the effect of valerian and constant darkness exposure on the social behavior of fruit flies. I created four vials with fly food, two of which contained a small dosage of valerian - a drug that causes drowsiness and reduces stress. One of the vials with the drug and another without the drug was wrapped around with tinfoil to cause constant darkness. A week later, I used the Social Space Assay to determine the average distance between the flies in each treatment group. The closer the distance, the more socially active and happy the flies are indicated to be. It was interesting to see that the flies who were treated with the drug were in fact, on average, closer to each other compared to those who were not treated with the drug. I then presented my findings and tips about my assay to my peers, which was good practice for the final presentation that I will have at the end of this program (please come to the Symposium!!).
Now as a p”woo”pa, I am mature enough to design my own independent project that I will be working on for the rest of the program. I wanted to address a growing concern of the juuling/vaping epidemic that is prevalent especially among students in high school. Despite the claims that it does not have a negative influence on their physical health, I wanted to investigate how the addiction could have a correlation to impulsive behavior and irrational risk-taking actions. In order to test something that can counter this addiction, I am also planning on using the drug haloperidol. Haloperidol can bind to certain dopamine receptors that are related to impulsive behaviors, preventing them from being activated by dopamine released due to nicotine.
Although these plans are not finalized, that is my initial plan for the future. I hope you keep following up on my story to the end!