In the afternoon, we all headed to lab for an application of what we’d learned in class. Our professors made it very clear to us that our labs would include cutting-edge techniques -- things scientists are working on as we speak. The skills we acquired from this course could be immediately applicable to modern-day research. The first week, labs focused on circuits so that we could learn to model a cell membrane through its electric properties. See the photo of my final circuit!
After we understood circuitry, we moved onto purifying channel proteins and inserting them into bilayers that we formed ourselves. This was a tough task, but, once it worked, we could actually see the currents change as a result of the channels joining the membrane. Our final collective lab project was to build a microscope and use it to see fluorescence in cells that we’d injected RNA into.
During our last two days of class, we were tasked with formulating and completing a project that would draw on something we had learned over our three weeks. My lab partner, Adam, and I had found our final lecture about protein structure and electron microscopy really interesting, so we decided our final project would consist of purifying ribosomes from E. coli we had in the lab, running them under the electron microscope, and making a 3D model using the EM images.
I’m so glad I participated in this class and got the chance to immerse myself in a once-in-a-lifetime learning environment. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner were filled with lively conversations with our professors about world events, research discoveries, and advice for furthering our scientific careers. They even spent their free time showing us Woods Hole’s hidden beaches, bringing us on a whale watching trip, and exploring the abundant marine life in a nearby marsh. Spending up to 12 hours a day with the same group of people allows for a level of connection and around-the-clock education that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.