Thursday, December 12, 2013

Monash Molecular Course

Sorry for the lack of updates lately - life has been busy!

Last week I spent a week at molecular course that was put on by Monash University.  The course was on campus, in a suburb of Melbourne.  It was my first trip driving through Melbourne, and I was quite intimidated with just trying to get there because it involved driving through the Melbourne CBD to get to my hotel.  Luckily I picked a hotel that was a 15 min walk from the building in which the course was being held.  I don't think I would have been able to handle the stress of trying to find parking everyday.

The course was put on by Micromon, a company within the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University.  It was a Recombinant DNA Techniques course that covered all the basics of modern molecular techniques.  I did the recommended reading in a textbook beforehand (about 100 pages worth of dense material), but even so, it was a very challenging course.  We had 9 lectures during the week and completed about 40 different lab procedures.  It was very fast-paced and I spent the evenings trying to wrap my head around what we had accomplished that day and what we'd be doing the next day.  Even though it was challenging, it was really beneficial and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to do the course.

One of the gels we ran during the course

The course was difficult but rewarding.  The laboratory part of the course had us put into pairs, and unfortunately I didn't do so well with the lab partner they gave me.  I was paired with a 45-yr-old guy from Pakistan, who struggled with English as well as pipetting skills.  Let me tell you, when you're pipetting volumes of 10 and 2 ul - you really don't want to be messing around with "learning to pipette".  I was patient at first, allowing him to share the work with me and we did equal pipetting... but then after some of our experiments didn't turn out (which meant we couldn't continue to the next step and had to take materials from another group to continue to lab), then I was no longer patient and willing to let him continue messing things up.  Plus he kept asking me questions (because his English was terrible), but I struggled to understand the info myself and couldn't clearly explain things to him.  Very frustrating! After his pipetting struggles, I did all the micropipetting from then on, and let him do volumes >50ul.  Things seemed to go a bit smoother after that.

We had a wide variety of activities in the lab - we did some cloning using plasmids, did a Southern blot as well as a Western blot, ran a real-time PCR and did a sequencing reaction as well.  All of these lab procedures came coupled with lectures to explain as well as prelabs before each session.  It was very fast-paced, but very well done.  And of course, the food was excellent - not only the lunches but the midday snacks as well.  I think I gained five pounds that week from all the delicious food!

All in all, it was a busy week!  Took me nearly all weekend to finally catch up on life.  Things at AAHL are winding down for the holiday, and lots of holiday parties are going on.  I'll have to talk about them in my next post.  Thanks to those of you who are still reading and haven't forgotten about me!

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to hearing about your first southern hemisphere Christmas. Joan