Thursday, December 5, 2013

This is it....the end of an era.

Well this is a bitter sweet blog for me as this will be my last entry.  I will graduate on the 13th of this month and the era of PC life will be over for me.

I'd like to start by thanking a few key people, without whom, parts of this journey would not be possible.
Amanda Chapman - You took a chance on me a few semesters ago and picked me to be your intern after excelling in your Bio class.  I have shared a lot of my personal life with you, we have a lot in common and I think that helped our relationship, both professional and personal.  You put your trust in me and my abilities and I know without any doubt, I have not let you down.  I will miss our little chats in your office and reporting my finding (and lack there of) and getting great feedback from you.  Thank you

Josh and Matt - You guys are great, what else can I say.  You bring life and energy into the Bioscience department and you are always there to help.  Matt, you have spent a lot of time helping me, especially this semester on my project, and helped me stay focused even when I felt like giving up.  Your stories and genuine interest in my life and success has been instrumental in my journey.   Josh, your music and overall coolness always put a smile on my face and I'm glad that I had a chance to get to know you.  I think that my math conversion will stay with me as you always made me think and never just gave me the answer to a problem, and made me realize my full potential.

Djiana - Your smile and encouragement is contagious.  You are a beautiful soul and the have the patience of a saint!  I can't count the number of times that I've needed your help with my blog or to fix my time sheet!   You keep your cool and no matter what, you help everyone and treat us all with respect and you always see the good side.  You have boosted my self esteem and made me look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see and what I have accomplished.

Jeremy - My buddy, my friend (tear).  I don't think that I could have survived STEM without you.  I always knew when you were in the office...I smelled the sweet smell of you from a mile away!  We have shared so many laughs and good times that I can't put a number on them.  Vous êtes un ami incroyable et je vous remercie d'être là pour moi et l'écoute de toutes mes histoires. Je m'ennuierai vous et notre camaraderie. Vous êtes un grand personnage avec un potentiel incroyable. Séjour génial.

To all my other STEM buddies - I wish that I more time to get to know all of you.  I'm so glad to have met you and I wish you all the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.  Stick with the STEM program, it is really something that will propel us all to the next level and something that we will never for get.

I thought long and hard about my last STEM blog quote:

Destiny is not a matter of chance, but choice, not something to wish, but to attain.

Good luck and happy holidays from my family to yours.

The Goolsby-Espinosa Family

Friday, November 29, 2013

One giant step for me....(waiting for my giant leap)

Well....I'm still waiting on results and data but I have had a few successful steps but not enough to actually pull substantial data.  I think that we have come to the conclusion that the primers that I am running for my PCR are just not working.  The sequencing on the labels do not match the sequencing on the papers that they came with so....that is a problem.
Last week I blogged that I finally got some really great bands from my DNA extraction with the new extraction buffer that I made so that was a big step in the right direction.  Matt has given me some new primers, rice primers.  I had written about these in a previous blog.  They are called universal rice primers for the reason that they should work for just about anything.  But Matt has never used them on human DNA yet so again...I will be a bit of a pioneer in this field.  Today I am running a electrophoresis gel on the primers alone (well with Saber green, orange loading dye and a little DNase free water).  I have a total of 7 primers, so I will be able to see whether or not these are good to use on my project and also on future STEM PCR protocols.  If all 7 primers work, then I can get started on another round of PCR on Monday with the extracted DNA that I KNOW is gold.
Slowly but surely, I will succeed and get results.

As per ususal...
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Science can be a real B...baffling that is

What can I say that I haven't already said about science?  This has really been a tough time for me with this experiment, but FINALLY I have had a actual breakthrough, thanks to Anil.  For those of you who don't know him, his is a professor here int he Bioscience department, he is kind, patient and brilliant.  It was his idea to go through all of the stock solutions that I was working with to see what they looked like.  I had been using a DNA extraction buffer that one of my fellow had made and there seems to have been some issues with that from the get-go.  There is a key element of the extraction buffer called EDTA, this comes in the form of a powder and a liquid.  The other student used the powder and created the solution and for some reason (either miscalculation or the age of the powder) my DNA was not reacting with the solution and I was not able to get any DNA bands.  Anil took one look at it and wanted me to start from the beginning and create a new extraction buffer.  This time we used EDTA premixed solution that we had in the fridge and DNase and RNase free water to make the buffer.  It was all smooth from there, the consistency of DNA when I placed it in my electrophoresis gel was different and I know from there that I was on the right tract.
It was like science magic, I got the bands that i had been hoping for, for weeks.  I was so excited and I shared my scientific elation to whom ever would listen!
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As ending quote

Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~Author Unknown

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The difference between try and triumph... is a little umph!!

Well it has only taken me 11 weeks but it has paid off.  I did it...finally, I successfully isolated genomic DNA from myself and two other lovely volunteers. I couldn't be happier, I was able to get results right before my rough draft of the final research paper was due, phew!!
This is my happy face
So my "eureka" moment came to me by the help of a few people, and it should have been something that we all caught earlier.  Matt, Anil, Josh and I were talking about the salt solution that I made for all of my subjects to swish with.  We all cringed at the taste and the couldn't get the salt out of our mouths after the rinse.  That should have been our clue!  I did my calculations incorrectly, I was having my subjects rinse with a 9% salt solution instead of a .9% WOW....what that was corrected it was like night and day.  I got a great DNA yield on my first try, I realize now that double checking my math with someone is probably a good idea seeing as math is not my strongest subject, my mental notes has been made!  The salt solution that I was having my subjects rinse in was actually degrading the DNA molecules before I even started my wizard protocol.

I would like to take a moment to give a shout out to my main professor....Anil Kapoor.  With out his guidance, I don't think that I would have been able to run my PCR.  Matt H, you have been a great help as well but I know that you have been swamped.  Anil took the time to go step by step with me in the PCR process and it was awesome.

So my PCR process went like this:
 First I diluted my original ALU primer sequence solution into two different epindorph tubes, one for stock and the other a working solution.  The stock was diluted ten times(so I have plenty for back up)  and the working solution was a dilution of the stock which I diluted another 10 times.  The primer looks for the forward base pair sequence of GTAAGAGTTCCGTAACGGACAGCT and the reverse primer looks for the base pairs of CCCCACCCTAGGAGAACTTCTCTTT.  (If you remember from about 9 weeks ago, I did a blog on how the primer PCR sequence works.  These are the base pairs that attach to the separated DNA in order to replicate and elongate the DNA sequence) .
From there, I added 90 um of clean DNase water and 10um of my ALU forward primer into one tube and the the same for the ALU reverse, then I added my 2 um of my original student sample, and added 62.5 um of 'Dream green Mastermix" primer and aliquot-ed that into to tiny PCR tubes and placed them into the T1000 Thermocycler and programmed it to the following specification:

Cycle 1 runs for 3 minutes at 95 degrees C
Cycle 2 runs for 30 seconds at 95 degrees C
Cycle 3 runs for 40 seconds at 58 degrees C
Cycle 4 runs for 1 minute at 72 degrees C
Then the process of cycle 2-4 repeat themselves 34 times
Cycle 5 runs for 10 minutes at 72 degrees C.

This whole process take anywhere from 2-4 hours

Thermocycler doing its thang!!

 I will get together will Anil tomorrow to run another electrophoresis gel from my PCR amplification!!

I had so much to write about today...with that I had gotten this results weeks ago but better late then never!!!

As always. I will end this entry with a very fitting quote

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1886);

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I give myself an A for effort!!

I am not usually this terrible at something that I try so hard to accomplish, but I guess when I fail...I fail hard!
Yet again, I have been unsuccessful at isolating DNA from my samples, so I have not had a good gel yet and I still have not run PCR (Grrrrrrrrr!). 

I noticed that last week a few things has gone wrong with my setup during the electrophoresis phase of my experiment.  About 15 minutes after I turned on my power source (to 120 volts), it just turned off, for no apparent reason.  The good thing is that I was there to see it and turned it back on right away.  I wasn't sure if that glitch was going to affect my results but it actually did.  My DNA started to diffuse backwards onto my gel.  I should have learned my lesson that time, but I used the same rig and power source again.  When the same thing happened, I actually stated to get excited.  Maybe this was my problem all power source, not an ID10T error.  So this week, I stated fresh, with a new rig and new power source for my electrophoresis set up.

Yesterday I sat in Anil's class as he taught BIO 160 and ran my entire protocol from start to finish.  I thought that if I was there he would be able to help me along the way (without disrupting his class of course), and maybe just the change in atmosphere would yield better results  :o(


I was really starting to get frustrated, especially as the rough draft for my research paper is coming up soon.  I was tired of the weeks of disappointment, so this morning I spoke to Josh and Matt and they made me feel a little bit better about myself and my (lack of ) progress.   This is the first time that anyone here in the STEM program has used this  protocol that I am using to extract human DNA (Gilbert is using the same protocol but on fruits and veggies and the yield of genomic DNA is like 1000 times grater then human), so I guess it is to be expected that I am the trial and error gal for this project.  I also learned that two other STEM students from last semester tried and only one person really got results.  She had a very well established protocol and all of the kinks had already been ironed out for her but even then, she was still only able to produce quality DNA about 70% of the time. So, try again...I will.

“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.”
T.F. Hodge

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My small step for science-kind

Well this week has been a little better then the last but I still have not gotten the results that I had initially hoped for, but the is the definition of science, right??
Actually, the definition of science, according to Webster, is "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.".

 I've been doing a ton of experimentation but if nothing else, I'm fine tuning my DNA extraction skills, and in my field, that is never a bad thing. 

So this week there really isn't a whole lot of new progress but I have altered my protocol a bit.  I have increased my original DNA in salt solution sample.  Thanks to Anil, who gave me some valuable advice, I took 1.5 uL of each sample, spun it down, then I added another 1.5 uL of solution and spun in down again to maximize the amount of DNA. 

I think that my problem this week is that my samples are not longer viable, they may be too old.  So today, I'm hoping to start some new solutions with samples from my fellow students.  But I did make some progress, I got one really bright band from a member of our Bioscience staff, I was able to reproduce it twice so I know that I am on the right track.  Below are a few photos of my some-what-successful electrophoresis gels.
The bright orange band is the best sample that I have gotten so far

This is my desired results. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The STEMamiga's

Yea!!  There are signs of new the form of new STEM students and I'm excited.  Not that I'm complaining about the old blood that's been flowing around here for the past few months, (actually semesters) but the new gang seems like they are going to all fit right in, ESPECIALLY my new girls!!  I've racked my brain for this one (so hold on...its a real knee slapper....if you were born in the '70's or early 80's) but seeing as we are females are an uncommon species this time around in STEM, I unofficially named us The Three STEMamigas!

BUT like so many things in my life this week, this didn't work out.  On the bright side, I've been told that there are 5 lovely ladies this semester, I can't wait to meet you all :o)

The other thing that didn't go well this week was my DNA extraction.  I tried using a new protocol that Gilbert and Matt had been working on.  To tell you the truth, I was really excited to use some advanced techniques to extract my DNA as my rudimentary soap extraction was not that high-tech.  I had my victims wash out their mouths out with a intense salt rinse for about 45 seconds and politely split the solution into a cup.
Me and my salt rinse

With the help of a kit from Promega called the "Wizzard DNA Clean-Up System" I added a resin that helps separate the DNA from the rest of the materials (frosted flakes, muffins...breakfast).  I added 1ml of the resin to Micro centrifuge tubes and added 50 uL of DNA solution, inverted the tube a few times to let the resin bind to the DNA.  Then I attached a lure lock syringe to a minicolum (which as a filter to catch the DNA.  The solution was pushed through the filter then I added 2mL of 80% isopropanol alcohol to the syringe and pushed that through the filter to clean the DNA and spun it in the centrifuge for 2 minutes on high.  I added 50uL of warm DI water and tel that soak into the filter for about 2 minutes then spun it again.  I was left with about 60 uL of a "pure" DNA solution...or was I???  I had my electrophoresis gel all ready to go and added my control sample and volunteer samples into the gel wells with the correct amount of orange loading dye and saber green.  I ran it at 120volts for 45 minutes while I was in class.  I was pumped when I got back to see what kind of bands were on my gel, but it was a bust!  I looked at my gel under the UV light box and only saw my control band.  Sigh....all that work for naught :o(

But I will try again I'll be coming for all of you with salt water in hand!!!

I wanted to end this weeks blog with a great quote:

Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does no one else.
– Unknown