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June 4th, 2013 by Lauren

First day in the lab!

Today marked the first day of my LEEP Pioneer project! This morning I met with Professor Meyer in her research lab here on campus in the Lasry Center for Bioscience. There I was introduced to the other students who will also be working in the annelid lab this summer. We’re all working with the organism C. teleta and studying its neural development, but we’re all researching different mechanisms and processes. One student is investigating how Notch (a signaling protein crucial to neural development) affects cell fate and patterning in C. teleta. Another student is causing the expression of certain genes that produce a mutant third eye. I myself will be working with two other students to produce live imaging movies of developing neural systems, using fluorescent dyes.

After actually setting foot in the lab today, I can’t wait to really get started. Up until now, this entire project has existed only in the abstract. I’ve filled out forms, exchanged emails, had meetings… but the project never felt real until today. Everything about the lab, from the extremely mundane (sifting bowls of mud to keep the annelids comfortable) to the extremely novel (looking at live early-stage annelid embryos under a microscope) to the extremely confusing (every single research paper I’ve been given to read) has finally become a reality. It’s still going to be a while before I can start making live imaging movies, since I need to get familiar with the equipment and the organisms first. Even so, I’m looking forward to getting back into the lab tomorrow. It’s going to be a long, busy, complicated summer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(Plus, I’m even getting my own lab coat. Best job perk ever.)

Til next week!

– Lauren

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