After some wacky days and wacky schedules, my life is starting to shake itself out. It reminds me of a metal ball bouncing down between two inclined planes in a “V” shape. A meeting with one of our professors here at Maryland (followed by my attending his laboratory’s weekly meeting) has led to a laboratory rotation studying Neisseria gonorrhea.
“…typical intracellular gram-negative diplococci, and pleomorphic extracellular gram-negative organisms, which is diagnostic for gonococcal urethritis”
While the layman probably thinks of the organism as a dirty disease that shouldn’t be discussed, the vast amount that we have yet to learn about N. gonorrhea is staggering and perfect for somebody like me. Sexually transmitted diseases have a cultural aspect to them not only because of their transmission, but because of how long they have lived in some sort of relationship with our species. By learning about these diseases, we are on some ways learning more about ourselves.
From the few brief meetings I’ve had, my laboratory rotation (about 6 weeks in length) will include locating a gene on one of the massive genomics databases, designing the reagents (primers) needed to clone that gene into a bacteria, and the process of cloning the gene into said bacteria. I asked my professor how long it would take HIM to do the project. He quoted me about a 5 day turnaround. It’s going to take ME about 6 weeks! Even if I fail to complete the process, I will have learned a lot about the process of cloning, a valuable skill in almost any laboratory.
While I’m always intimidated by how little I know and how much I have to learn, I am constantly surprised by how much I DO know and DO understand whenever I attend meetings or lectures. Realizing this has given me the confidence I will need to begin my journey toward a Ph.D.