The first few weeks of TRIP have flown by, and I am glad to say that I have enjoyed them thoroughly. I felt like a true scientist while diluting drugs with micropipettes, sorting unconscious flies with paintbrushes, and creating grape plates with Juicy Juice. There were certainly moments when I stepped out of my comfort zone and felt unsure about my abilities; many of the processes in the lab are new to me. However, the collaborative environment created by the staff and students ensures that I always receive the support I need. I feel like there is always someone to provide an answer when I have a question. Plus, all the friends that I have made at TRIP are super cool and make even the most mundane tasks (such as creating labels for vials) more enjoyable.
Before jumping into our independent project, my TRIP friends and I each performed an introductory experiment to get us comfortable with the lab. My introductory experiment sought to determine whether a disrupted circadian rhythm and/or a dose of St. John’s Wort (an herbal medicine supposed to treat mild depression) had an impact on fly mood. I found this project super engaging for several reasons. For one, I was genuinely interested in the question, since I often experience brain fog or anxiety when I go to sleep at a weird time. Additionally, learning how to knock out and sort flies was unexpectedly fun and satisfying. I did feel bad dumping the flies into the “Fly Morgue” at the end of the experiment, however.
Then, before I knew it, it was time to start brainstorming for my independent project! At first, I had no clue what I wanted to study. However, after sitting down and thinking about my hobbies and habits, I decided that I wanted to study the effectiveness of the common pre-workout ingredient L-Citrulline on providing energy to sleep deprived flies. As someone who exercises often, whether it be lifting with my friends or (preferably not) running for a sport, I hear a lot about fitness supplements. One particularly popular supplement is pre-workout, which I sometimes take for an energy boost when I am tired. However, pre-workout powders often contain upwards of 10 or 15 ingredients, which made me wonder whether these ingredients were necessary for providing energy - or if one would be better off saving money and drinking coffee! L-Citrulline in particular is a supplement that claims to provide energy and is common in many pre-workout mixes yet has little research supporting its effectiveness. After completing copious (though definitely necessary) worksheets and exercises in preparation for my independent project, I am very excited to begin working on it.