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my new rotation

i thought it might be good to think a little about my new lab rotation in the dicarlo lab. however, i’ve realized that i ought to first reflect a little on my first lab rotation, in the delong lab.

ed delong’s group works on microbial genomics; they’re some of the best people around at figuring out what kinds of bacteria and archea live in crazy environments like the deep sea and hot oil wells. since i’ve been very interested in doing research on biologically-inspired ways of generating new energy, i thought it would be a good idea to get some experience working with critters that can turn sunlight into energy. the delong lab fit the bill – i believe ed was the first dude to find that some archea contain rhodopsins. if that protein name rings a bell, it’s ‘cuz those are the little things that sit in the back of your eye sockets and sense the light passing through your eyes.

in any case, my rotation was fantastic. i ended up working on an energy project (although it involved jacking up oil production – kind of a dark-side vibe to the whole thing.) my project was to figure out what kind of archea and bacteria were living at the bottom of an oil well in alaska. this was to be a wet-lab kind of project, where i’d actually get to use my hands to do something other than type or scribble equations. i had intentionally asked for this kind of work – i figured it’d be good experience: it’d be easier to convince some microbial or metabolic engineer to work with me if i could prove that i wasn’t useless in the lab.

unfortunately, at the time, i pretty much was useless in the lab. luckily, ed attached me to steve hallam – post-doc extrordinaire. in the span of two months, steve managed to teach me to how to: runs pcrs, clone genes, run gels, purify all kinds of dna, sequence dna, and pick colonies. most importantly, i learned how not to ruin the lab stocks while running my experiments. actually, what was most important was that steve was remarkably upbeat and excited throughout the entire period; i can honestly say that i had a lot of fun in the lab with him.

it didn’t hurt either that the rest of the lab was super-helpful and -friendly. the lab actually has a bit of an odd dynamic – there are about 4 or 5 post-docs, only 1 or 2 graduate students, and a ridonculous number of robots. i’m still not much of an experimentalist but i’m pretty sure that most

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