Now that we’re further into our introductory experiments, I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot, not just about my experiment, but also about lab skills. Particularly, the importance of going slowly and remaining focused. For my introductory experiment, I was studying the effects of St. John’s Wort and circadian rhythm on mood. This experiment involves wrapping two vials in aluminum foil to keep the flies in constant darkness. During this process, I made a mistake and accidentally wrapped all my vials in foil, stressing out every fly. The next time, when I came to conduct the Open Field Test Assay in order to measure the stress level of the flies, I was aware of my mistake, and as expected, every fly was stressed and none of the flies remained in the center. Even though I made a mistake, I was able to fix it in time to make sure the embryos and larvae in the vial were not stressed. Since then I’ve paid more attention to what the procedure of the experiment is and what I’m doing.
We’ve also just started our independent projects and I’m really excited to see how everyone’s turn out. I’m investigating the impact of gut microbiome diversity on sociability. In a study I read, it was found that people with larger social networks, or those that were considered “more sociable”, had more diverse microbiomes. This led me to two questions, one was “Does social interaction impact microbiome diversity?” and the other was, “Does microbiome diversity impact sociability?” While my first question would have been really fun to study, it would take an incredibly long time to execute, which made the second question more feasible for the time we have in the program. With Dr. Leystra and the other students’ help, we were able to create a plan by adjusting the dosage of a probiotic to impact the amount of diversity in the gut microbiome. I may have released more than a few flies while sorting them into the experimental vials but thankfully it didn’t seem to impact my experiment so far.
Next time I’m going to be running the social space assay in order to analyze the fruit flies’ sociability and also setting up another set of vials. Although I overestimated the amount of time it would take to set all my vials up in my experimental plan, I’m glad I overestimated because that means I’m faster than I think and also I’ll hopefully have enough time to run the whole assay next time without being pressed for time. I’m excited to see how everyone’s projects progress over the next few weeks!