As we wrap up the 7th week of TRIP, I still can’t believe how quickly time has gone by as I go through the initial phases of planning out my independent project. Hey everyone! It’s me, Matt Tang, back again to tell you all about my journey here at TRIP and what I’ve been doing. When I initially joined the TRIP community, I was completely lost about what experiment I wanted to conduct later on. I knew that I was interested in the mind and how the brain functioned, but the ultimate trigger of inspiration came from being a student in a virtual environment.
Just like the isolated pupae in the image above, quarantine definitely makes me feel more lonely at times. School life is especially more challenging and that made me wonder if missing out on that “in-person” experience and learning through screens all day has obstructed my studying in any way. Though virtual school is still in session, the absorption of new material just isn’t the same as it was before, so I’m curious whether factors of quarantine (and their impact on my mentality) are the reason for my increased struggle. This led me to the question: “How does screen time and/or being raised in isolation impact stress levels and memory in adult flies?” So how does one exactly test all of this? I set up over 40 vials (yes that’s right… OVER 40) and placed pupae inside all of them. The “isolated” vials would contain only one pupa in them while the “non-isolated” vials each held three. From there, I had to bring ALL of these vials home and expose some of them to screens. I even had to troubleshoot by placing some toilet paper at the bottom of my vial racks so that the pupae would be directly exposed to the screen.
Back in the TRIP lab, I performed the Centrophobism Assay which will let me see whether my flies were stressed or not. With other peers performing the same assay, I felt reassured as we bounced ideas off of each other and collaborated as a team. Even though we all had different experimental questions, it was encouraging to see how students and the scientific community as a whole need to work together in a laboratory setting. A student in the morning session developed her very own adult memory assay and I look forward to working with her as well in the future to strengthen the development of a new experiment!
To wrap things, I can’t exactly say that I recommend labeling over 40 vials, isolating pupae one by one, or making annoying tiny, little cotton balls to plug each vial. However, I can say that the support of both friends and mentors alike at TRIP definitely makes the whole process more enjoyable. I’m learning so much about experimental technique and with these amazing people, my time here every week goes by in an instant. I guess that proves how time really does “fly” by when you’re having fun. I’m excited to see the results of my experiment and can’t wait to share my findings with the scientific community!