Research Progress

Sometimes, research seems to go just so frustratingly slowly. There’s a gazillion and one things that have to get done right before I can proceed.

For example, setting up controls. I’ve been attempting a bacteria-to-yeast light communication experiment, and after a few tries at the assay set up by my previous mentor Robin, I was unable to replicate her results. And hence I have embarked on a month-long journey to troubleshoot the source of the problem. Is it the cells? Is it the reagents? Is there something about the way I’m handling the experiment?

It’s been mentally challenging to ground my own expectations. I thought I could set the goal of wrapping up the project within a month and a half – end of December and whole of January. But I ended up using December to set up the equipment and reagents needed to conduct the experiment (which involved a bit of waiting time, as I had to order things during the holiday season), and used half of January so far to troubleshoot why I haven’t been able to get yeast and bacteria to communicate.

That said, I’ve also started to think about ways to cheaply (time-wise) prototype bacterial color photography. I’m in the fortunate position of seeing interest from iGEM teams in accomplishing this goal, who are also producing parts that can be used. For example, simple protein reporters can be used to prototype the color output, before I hook up the actual pigment producing genes. I also have been trying to hook up Karsten’s T7 wires, based on advice from Jeff Tabor, but that did involve a short detour as I found my antibiotic plates weren’t good (the ampicillin probably went bad).

Also, I’ve received great advice from Mike, one of the post-docs in our lab, who gave me a few good ideas to think about related to gene expression control and genome-scale engineering.

Okay, time to continue working after a little hiatus. Onward!