I severely underestimated the amount of math mistakes a single person could make in three weeks. As confident as I am in the lab, I struggled a lot creating dilutions and drug stocks, confusing what number is Volume 1 and Volume 2 when doing dilution problems. Thankfully, my TRIP-mates have gracefully helped me essentially relearn how to do math. Outside of my obvious disdain for math, I have had so much fun in the lab. On Day 2 of being in the lab, we learned how to sort files using a CO2 pad and a paintbrush. It was so stressful trying to ensure I was not going over 15 minutes with the flies on the pad, trying to differentiate between male and female flies, and trying to not accidentally kill the flies with my paintbrush. After a few trips to the CO2 tank, I managed to decrease my time per vial by roughly 8 minutes which is amazing for someone like me who gets distracted somewhat easily.
After learning how to sort flies, me and Nadia completed the female fertility assay alongside each other. We were naturals at transferring files from vial to vial without having to knock them out using CO2 or ice. Just the fact that we didn't release 50 flies at once trying to complete the assay is a success in my book. We used grape plates and yeast to entice the flies into laying embryos. We then used the microscopes to count how many embryos were laid and eventually hatched. A few flies actually got stuck to my grape plates and the images of my stuck flies were promptly posted on my Instagram story as soon as I was able to get a picture of them through the microscope. Doing the female fertility assay was fun, but I knew early on that was not the direction I was planning on taking for my independent project.
I have decided I want to focus on the effect varying water quality has on the gut microbiome. I have been to five different schools since starting kindergarten, 3 in the School District of Philadelphia and 2 outside of it, and I have seen the large disparities in facilities and food quality between the districts. Given how I can actually taste a difference in the water from these schools, I began to wonder what affects the quality of water has on overall health, especially stomach and gut health. At first, I was debating between studying larval memory and the gut microbiome but I decided on gut microbiome because the assay is extremely fun and I am more interested in bacteria then neuroscience and memory. I am excited to get started on my independent project and to do my first microbiome assay!