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Scholar Highlight

December 20, 2011

University of Sussex- Week 6 (11/15/11)

I cannot believe I have been in England for 8 weeks now! It is also bittersweet that I only have one month left of this amazing experience. The week of the 7th was indeed one to remember. From finally having an assessment test in my Dynamic Earth and Questioning the Media course, to experiencing the amazing culture in Spain, I must say I am blessed. My Spelman sister Chelsy and I traveled to Barcelona for the weekend, and had a great time touring and enjoying the Spanish cuisine. Our hotel was located in the heart of the city, so we were able to walk mostly everywhere we wanted to go. We visited the biggest aquarium in the Mediterranean, saw some artistic paintings in the Picasso museum, and drove around Barcelona in a little Go Car where we were taken more photos of by amazed onlookers than we took of the historical sites of Barcelona! I am not sure why, but I felt quite at home in Spain. I got a very inviting and welcoming vibe, allowing me to feel more comfortable in my surroundings (at least more so than in Paris). This is how our Go Car looked!

 

 

In Barcelona, the locals speak Catalan and are known the Catalonian people. Catalonia is a small community in Northeast Spain comprised of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona, with Barcelona as its capital and largest city. Catalan is a different language than Spanish, although it sounds extremely similar. In fact, Portuguese is more similar to Spanish than is Catalan. Due to the similarities of Spanish and the Catalan language, I was able to understand some things said to me by the locals due to my Spanish background. My mother is from Costa Rica, and although I am not fluent in Spanish, I am able to understand if I listen carefully, which I loved because the language barrier was not as huge as in France.

In terms of barriers, I am finally beginning to get past the hurdle that has caused my research project to be at a standstill for weeks now. In lab, I used the HF buffer I tested the previous week to see what type of results I was going to come up with. After making my 5 dilutions, I tested them at a gradient of 60 + 4 degrees Celsius using the PCR machine and I saw that as the temperature increased, the brightness of the bands increased simultaneously, giving me a temperature of 62.6 to test my oligos. However, this week, Dr. Maconochie decided to teach me how to do a digestion with my band, to hopefully purify the DNA and when PCR’d again, hopefully the bands will show up nicely. To complete a digestion, I used the long wave UV machine instead of the short wave because the long wave is less likely to damage the DNA in the band. After placing my gel in the machine, I used a scalpel to cut my band out of the gel to conduct the digestion on. After a series of steps, my band was finally purified and I ran a PCR and gel with the hopes of producing a bright band. Unfortunately, I only got a smear when I ran the experiment. Because of this, I used a gradient on the purified fragment, which also only produced a smear. Next week, I am trying a different approach to getting my perfect band. Lab research is extremely repetitive, and because I try my hardest to always get things right, I feel as though I am doing something wrong.

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