The Final Week in Germany by Jacob

The last week was here was much more relaxed. With our libraries prepared for sequencing, we were basically finished. We couldn’t run our samples in the sequencer until Wednesday, so we had planned to work in the Ancient Lab, reextracting several samples, mostly to get more practice working in the clean lab. Unfortunately, the lab was booked all day Monday, so we did some quick practice in one of the modern labs, reviewing technique and basic lab habits. Although that sounds easy, it’s actually very difficult to consistently follow George’s protocols. There’s a million little steps that have to be done in a specific and not necessarily obvious order. For example, you have to remember to open the tubes before you put the tip on the pipette, even though I would have thought the reverse to minimize contamination of the buffers and samples!

Tuesday, we went into the ancient lab and began new extractions. We used two samples that didn’t work the first time, as well as three new ones. Using the mortar and pestle to grind the specimens made a nice break from pipetting. Before work Tuesday, Mayeesha and I went to a German breakfast buffet, which was awesome. Germans have excellent breakfasts, mostly bread, croissants, and different types of meat, although there are also eggs, yogurt, and cereals.

Wednesday, we finished our work in the ancient lab, getting to a stable stopping point with our libraries. That afternoon, when Johanna and Carolina, who were also putting samples on the sequencer, were ready, we began prepping our samples for sequencing. This took a long time, as there are a lot of calculations necessary to ensure the samples are placed on the sequencer in the right concentrations. George explained to us how the sequencer works, which is actually very cool. It measures flashes of light to tell the order of nucleotides.

Because the sequencer takes about 24 hours, and we didn’t start running it until 7pm Wednesday, there wasn’t anything for us to do Thursday, so we took the day off. I used it to explore more of Potsdam. I’ve been trying to run in different directions, and I found a new park complex which is pretty cool.

Friday, our last day in the lab, we finally saw our sequencing results! But, we’re not going to tell you what they show just yet…stay tuned for a bigger announcement!

We are leaving on Sunday! Mayeesha has friends from high school coming to visit this weekend, and I am going to continue exploring Potsdam and Berlin. Working in the lab has been so fun, but I’m looking forward to coming home and continuing with my summer.

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