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Week 4: Be Prepared

       This week was a big week because all of the interns had our mid-term presentations to give on Friday. That meant we had to bring together all of our current data, conclusions, and next steps, and format them into a five-minute presentation. It may seem like a simple task, but with all of the experiments and data I have already collected, it was a little daunting to try and sort through it all to find what was relevant. So, along with the tests I ran, I also spent the rest of my time doing just that.

      On Monday, I checked up on my experiments from the previous week. The one testing the need for manganese oxidation gave some pretty conclusive results in favor of manganese oxidation to break down the complex molecules of lignin. To confirm this, I plated these samples, however, this time they were more diluted than the last time this test was performed. I also started growing different strains of my bacteria that have known manganese-oxidizing genes deleted, in order to use for future tests. They were cultured on both liquid and solid medias of LB.
      Tuesday was a busy day. I recorded results from the experiment I plated the day before. And the dilutions helped immensely, because the colonies present could be counted accurately. The plate counts were a confirmation of the visual results from the liquid cultures. In fact, there were 38 colonies on the lignin plate, while that number doubled to 80 colonies on the lignin + manganese plate, so that looks very promising. The different strains of my bacteria that I started growing on Monday were utilized on the plates of different carbon sources. Then I also streaked my environmental samples onto a coordinate system on a few more plates, in order to see how many species we had. Lastly, I re-streaked the experiment testing how my bacteria grow with different solid carbon sources, in order to get single colonies. What was left of my day was spent brainstorming with my mentor about my presentation.
      On Wednesday, I set up the same experiment that I’ve done twice already, the one testing whether manganese oxidation is necessary for the break down of complex molecules. The reason for this is just to seek out consistent results. I also kept an eye on all of my plates that were incubating at the time. There was also another seminar regarding the “Ethical Issues in Basic Research”, by Paul Tratnyek. It was very thought provoking, and an important lesson to learn before our first presentation. I then started to gather all of my important data and put it into the preliminary phases of a PowerPoint presentation, with the help of Kati. Just talking through everything with her was super valuable and helped my presentation become clearer to me.
      Thursday was used as the main day to put together my presentation and start to practice it. Kati helped me navigate through all of the information, and she was there to give some good tips.
      The big day up to this point finally arrived. When I got to the lab, I practiced my presentation a couple of times with Kati. Then I had some work to do, so I continued with my usual work. I recorded the results from the experiment I set up on Wednesday regarding the necessity of manganese oxidation in limited medias, and then plated it to see how they were growing in each media. It was then time for the interns to shine. Because of alphabetical order, I was sentenced to go last, so my nerves marinated while everyone else went. Finally it was my turn. I shook off my nerves and went for it, and it went really well! It was good to get it over with, so I could get back to work. I went back to the lab and sub-cultured the experiment previously mentioned, in order to get rid of some of the carry-over nutrients. It was a successful week!