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Blog post by Cafrey He Feng


Going Through the Untold Part of a Research Lab

After receiving an email email about an opportunity to work with Eisen Lab to study the microbiome of nectar, I joined the class because I wanted to better understand what a research experience is like . I did have previous lab experiences from my lower division science courses, but I never had an actual research experience. In our class, we are studying the microbiome of nectar collected from different locations and different flowers, and we are trying to examine and study about how the associated microbes affect the pollinators like bees and birds. In a big picture, we are studying how these tiny microbiomes influence the ecosystem.

Perhaps one of the most recent memorable events that happened in our class is when all the PCRs in Eisen Lab and our class failed. ‘PCR Saga of Pain’ is what our instructors referred to the the situation as . Our class, and a bunch of the Eisen Lab research team did multiple PCRs to try to identify the problem. . After multiple troubleshoots, we determined that the old Introvogent reagents no longer worked and we had to buy new ones. There was a silver lining in this situation as it was a great learning experience even though we have lost time and effort in doing these failed PCR. I learned that in a research environment, there are going to be problems and hiccups. It is up to us to troubleshoot the problems, and persevere until we find a solution! In our case, we are redoing our PCR with our new reagent. Overall, even though the goal of science is about making impactful discoveries that will be impactful that would last generations, but science is about learning from our mistakes as well. We have to persevere our way through our works until we make progress. Progress does not just come out as we expect to be as it usually requires efforts and many mistakes between the initial step and progress. For myself, there were a lot failed PCR that we did throughout the course, and no satisfaction with our results. Devastation is part of our everyday life, and it applies with science. It will come in some part of our lives, and it is up to us stand up and continue to push on. That is the beauty of science, and the reason that I love about the world of science.

David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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