It’s wild to think that five weeks ago I had absolutely zero experience with fruit flies. Now, I’ve sorted so many flies that I could probably do it in my sleep. The larvae, on the other hand, were slightly more problematic. When I decided to do the larval memory assay, I was not expecting for it to take so much time! On day one of our independent projects, I ended up staying about an hour and a half after the TRIP session was over, and that was with the help of the TAs. This was a result of me wanting to have all my other required tasks done and ready before starting the memory assay, which required moving the larvae from plate to plate many times and leaving them on for five minutes each. This meant spending 35 minutes per condition (if done at absolute maximum efficiency with no time accounting for the process of moving the larvae), and I had five conditions. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed at first, and felt as if there was no way I would ever be able to get done on time. However, I soon realized that the five minutes the larvae were incubating was time that I could use if I planned my day more effectively. On day three I was actually able to finish on time by starting my assay first and simultaneously doing every other task on my checklist (including sorting flies)! It wasn’t easy, but I finally found a method that worked for me.
Now that I’ve completed all 5 repetitions, I’m very surprised by the results. I certainly wasn’t expecting all my conditions with vape flavors to have an increased percent of larvae with memory retention compared to the control! Of course, many more experiments must be completed before solid conclusions can be made, so don’t go running off to buy vape juice right away to help your memory. It’s also not without drawbacks, since I counted the number of pupae before doing the assay for developmental data, and all the conditions with the vape flavors had a lower number of pupae.
I learned how to turn a question born out of curiosity into a well developed experiment, and got to experience the joys and drawbacks of the scientific method firsthand.