Soon after I wrote my last post, we began getting acclimated in the lab environment with our assigned preliminary screens in which I was tasked to determine how Vitamin D3 affects flies in both light and dark conditions. As many know, Vitamin D3 is a nutrient created in the skin when people are exposed to sunlight, or can be consumed through dairy, vegetables, and fortified products. With this information, it was fascinating to see if this Vitamin could supplement flies deprived of light, or if the flies were deprived by the trauma of darkness in the first place. Once the flies were exposed to their drugged food and/or deprivation of light, I utilized the social space assay, in which I placed flies into a two dimensional glass chamber to quantify their sociability by measuring the distance between each animal. Through this screen-- my first ever lab screen at that-- I was introduced to a variety of techniques and programs that I thought I would never be able to use until later on in my career, affirming my love for research. This made me even more excited to begin my own independent project!
As stoked as I was to begin my own study, I encountered a couple bumps in the road that made things just a bit more complicated (or exciting-- it depends how you want to look at it). I initially thought that I wanted to test how soy milk in comparison to other milks affects female fertility in flies. Soy contains a compound called phytoestrogen, a fancy term for a substance that makes the body believe it is estrogen. If consumed in large amounts, soy isoflavones, the phytoestrogens in soy, can detriment female fertility in humans, so as a lactose-intolerant individual who is often exposed to soy, I wanted to explore this idea more. However, it was soon brought to my attention that flies do not use estrogen in their reproductive systems (an oversight by yours truly), so I had to slightly alter my course of action.
Now, instead of soy, I am testing three drugs known to impact female fertility in one way or another: Fenugreek, Black Cohosh, and Folic Acid. By combining these drugs in a variety of manners, I am hoping to provide insight as to how people should treat these herbal supplements in regards to their fertility, and the possible dangers or benefits that could accompany consuming these supplements separately, or in reaction with each other. Using an assay-- an experiment-- testing female fertility, I will begin to record my first rounds of data. So far, I have had to do a little more math than most (because I am a bit ambitious and decided to test three drugs) and copious amounts food vial preparation.
Long story short: I owe most of the TRIP initiative staff Diet Coke or other compensation for their much appreciated help.
I may not get the results I desire or expect by the end of this study, but what I want most is to acquire an experience that will further equip me for problem solving and solution developing that I can use in science or elsewhere; so far, my time in TRIP has been doing just that. Wish me luck!