Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lauren Reilly's Internship, Summer 2013 - Part 3

Last week and this week I am preparing samples to be run by the mass spectrometer. Each sample requires 6 to 10 cibs in order to run 3 to 5 replicates of the same depth increment. When I am choosing which cibs to use, I make sure they are in good condition to ensure sound results.

It’s interesting learning and developing the methods and procedures for my project to prepare the samples. After I choose which cibs I am going to use, I write down which species they are and if there is any sort of imperfection such as a partially cracked test chamber or hole. It’s important to take good notes on the cibs because after I choose them, I use two small plates of glass to crush them into smaller pieces. Then I put the crushed, homogenized cibs into a vial, clean with methanol, and put them in the oven to dry. Next comes the most delicate part of preparing my samples. I have to divvy up the crushed cibs into samples weighing about 100 microns. Sometimes when using the microbalance I catch myself holding my breath! Losing any part of the sample at this point can mean losing the sample entirely or having to prepare a new one - and no one likes to redo their work.

As my lab neighbor likes to remind me, “Work smarter, not harder.” With more practice preparing samples, my time has definitely been progressing toward being spent in smarter ways!

Post Author: Lauren "Ren" Reilly, University of South Florida

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