Today we toured the Stockholm University labs of one of our mentors. The main focus of this lab was on flies (Drosophila Melanogaster) and nematodes (Caenorhabditis Elegans). I found myself to be more interested in these organisms than I would have imagined. I usually try to surround myself with the cute and fluffy stuff, and neither of these came close to that description. Both of these creatures are model organisms and used very often for general science experiments. In the fly area of the lab, we got to sort flies based on eye color and gender. (It doesn’t sound as gross as you think.) In our past biology class, we had to sort dead frozen flies; but this time, they were alive and you had to give them a little bit of CO2 gas to slow them down and to keep from flying away. They had an array of fly experiments, from fly gut dissections to testing cancer causing oncogenes. The nematodes were used for testing immune responses in caterpillars and fly larva. When a nematode infects the larva, it releases bacteria into the larva- but this isn’t just any bacteria. This is genetically modified bacteria to express green fluorescent proteins which will then be visible on a microscope to view stages of infection. I was actually allowed to pipette the nematodes onto the slide and my pipetting history really came in handy- my hand was as steady as a rock. It was amazing the amount of nematodes in the ten microliter sample; it makes me cringe over how many there are in every place of the world that we just can't see. However, with the skin-crawling thought in mind, I really did enjoy being able to see the GFP since this is a prime example of a reporter gene that is often used in biotechnology. Biotechnology. BiOtEcHnOlOgY.
The day ended with ice cream before dinner. Every night should be dessert before dinner. If something happens and you never make it to dinner, who cares? At least you had dessert. This ice cream place made the waffle cones right in front of you on an assembly line machine that squirted large amounts of waffle batter from the ceiling (or heaven, or some other magical place). I ordered the peppermint and brownie ice creams and I think my life was complete. It really "Sweden up" the trip. So good, I forgot about GFP.
On another day after class, we adventured to the top of Gondolen, a majestic overlook of the city. The sun was just setting, the clouds were rolling across the horizon, and the wind rustled your hair in a somewhat more violent Hollywood way. You could literally feel all your worries fly away. We watched the sunset and I couldn’t have shared it with a better group of people.
Bye for now,