The Thesis Struggle

We are almost at the half waypoint for our first semester thesis, and I am already starting to feel the crunch.

As a new budding scientist, it’s been a hard adjustment to plan everything myself rather than just following a simple laboratory protocol. Thus, I occasionally feel as though I am locked in a dark room with a very thin bat, looking for a very small metaphorical piñata (that upon its discovery will reveal the correct lab procedure). However looking back on the first weeks I have been in lab, there really seems to be a learning curve of confidence that I have been experiencing. When I first entered the Williams Lab, I was afraid to do basic laboratory tasks without constant reassurance of my professor. However, now I feel much more confidant doing procedures without hand held guidance, something that took me a while to overcome.

As far as thesis progress, I have since tested my potential primers (utilizing dilutions of cDNA and qPCR) for the two genes I am analyzing in response to oxidative stress: nrf2a and gclc. I also learned how to breed zebrafish, dose their embryos with chemicals to induce oxidative stress, as well as “wash” the embryos and then freeze them into liquid nitrogen for storage. I also became proficient in attaining cDNA from Zebrafish embroyes utilizing phenol extractions. Lastly, I planned my dosing plan to test how diquat elicits oxidative stress. Sadly I have not yet executed my dosing plan, I was out of the country for a little over a week due to a family emergency and will be utilizing my fall break to catch up in lab work. Overall, thesis IS as hard as everyone at Bates says. It definitely trains you to be an independently thinking scientist, rather than a drone that follows a lab protocol verbatim. I hope to continue improving in the following weeks, and finally begin microinjecting zebrafish!

All the best and until next time,

-Nicholas W. Pray