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Week 1 - first blog ever

So here goes my first blog ever! This was a whirlwind week and I cant believe that I am about to start week 2 already! Week 1 consisted of a lot of frantic running around (and flailing at times) but overall, everything was taken care of an I survived. As of right now, I am working with Dr. Craig Anderson, a New Zeland native who is really cool, and we are studying manganese oxidation by microorganisms. I have basically jumped onto a project he started and Tuesday was day one of intense research. It is hard for me to remember what I accomplished on Tuesday because I was so worried about breaking something or being sent home with an "INCOMPETENT" label that everything else was a blur. Over the course of this week, we have taken samples collected recently on a cruise and began preparing for testing each sample. I spent quite a while making medium (liquid and solid) to culture these bugs on, which is a feat in and of itself! I will remember to thank my professors when I go back to school, for always preparing the medium for us. I realize now that they saved all of us students two days of constant work! After preparing medium Craig and I created a few standard curves which we will use to measure the Mn-oxidizing activity of these microorganisms in solution. LBB is used as an indicator in this case and it turns the solution varying shades of blue depending on how much Mn is being oxidized. The standard curves were created using varying concentrations of solutions, so I got very good at dilution techniques! Next, the bacteria were cultured and plated on the medium we created earlier and left to sit. While these were growing, I slowly counted CFU's (culture-forming units) on each plate that was previously cultured to find out how organisms grew on each plate. And if you were wondering, this literally means counting every circular colony on the plate. Thank goodness Craig is a kind man and he let me only count 1/8 or 1/4 of the plate and use that number, or i could have been there for weeks! The final protein assay that Craig and I ran did not turn out as we expected because of an incorrect assumption we made about the solution concentration, so we left on Thursday afternoon with an idea of how to fix our problem for Monday.


Friday was a day of fun! The REU students and I spent a day with Vanessa and Sergey touring the Bonneville dam and hiking in the Gorge. To top the day full of sunshine and fun off, we came back to DoSE for an evening barbecue! Overall, it was the perfect end to a busy, crazy, and fun week! I can't wait to see what next week has in store for us-lets just hope that I look like I know what I am doing a little bit more, and do a little less flailing around in the lab.