Thursday, January 22, 2009

Picture a Day-Day 50

Occasionally lab work requires you to crawl out of the lab or pull yourself away from your office and actually travel somewhere else.

If you're the professor in charge or a grad student with a fancy poster to present then it's to fun and exciting places. If you're a lab grunt like me then it's to places that barely contain a bar and a church.

Yesterday I drove two hours west deep into the heart of Nebraska's flat land (I swear regardless of what you may all think, hear, and smell we've actually got hills in other parts of the state. Actually one of our claims to fame are the sand hills so I have no idea why people think we're as flat as a pancake).
It was a pretty nice day for a drive, maybe a touch too warm so it seemed like a good idea to take a nap but over all not to bad. But most people; however, don't rent a University vehicle and drive just to take a picture and leave.

The whole crux of the trip was to pick up an important passanger. One that I will come to know very very well, I'd almost say obssesivly so. Here they are all bundled up ready for the trip:They were pretty good travelers too, didn't complain or make too much of a fuss. There were no spills, which we were all fearful of and they kept toasty warm in their little blanket.

I got them back and introduced them to their new environment where I hope they'll grow and flourish:So begins a new chapter in my life. A chapter devoted to the caring for and loving of some small little macrophages adhered to plastic wells. I get to restart cell culture.

If you've ever met or known someone who does a lot of cell culture you'll realize one thing right away, we're insane (especially if we do primary cell lines). Cells can become infected and all die right off if you look at them funny.

Officially they're sort of like having a goldfish, you just have to watch them to make sure they're okay every day and every other day or so feed them and clean out their tank.

Unofficially they are little walking time bombs. If you don't do your damndest to keep everything as sterile as possible (that means the hood, the incubator, the hall you have to take them down to get to the microscope, and that jerk from two labs over who keeps poking his head in there to take a look) they will become infected and die.

Every cell culture person I've ever met has their own special one way of doing everything and if you even so much as breathe on their stuff you will be dealt with in a horrible mind numbing way (usually involving a long talk about the importance of sterile techniques). If there were a Saint of Cell Culture, labs would have her picture up all over the place.

So wish me luck as I become obsessive over some little cow macrophages that need all the love and attention I can give them.


Anonymous said...

Good luck!
I don't think that I should become a lab worker then... for I've even managed to kill a cactus before!

Lindsey said...

Good for you, good luck!

AmyJean said...

I say it again.. your job is so cool :)


PS. Love the photo!

Anonymous said...

Hey fellow Nebraskan :)
What a small world we live in. Just wanted to drop by and thank you for commenting on my blog (the desert dome). I have traveled thru yours and enjoyed all of your pictures and commentaries. Fun stuff!!

Linda said...

I remember doing that in high school. It was kind of fun and we didn't care so much if we killed them. Our teachers would give us extra credit if we grew more on our own time.