Friday, July 29, 2011

side note - job?

I know I've still got a couple more days to fill in from the developmental biology workshop, but its been quite busy.  Somehow I've ended up in an interview process for a faculty position.  I'm still not sure exactly what happened as it started with going to a friend's sister's house for a birthday and now I think I'm in negotiations for a tenure-track position in a school of pharmacy.  There's still a ways to go to make sure its a good fit for both parties, but its kind of exciting to have a good prospect.

The unfortunate part is that it takes a lot of time to interview, prepare materials, etc.  The good part is that I've got a great summer undergraduate in the lab, so the science is still moving forward.  We'll see how this all works out... but its interesting!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DMC DB Workshop - Day 2 urchins & chicks

Ah, urchins.  I study these and still I learned quite a bit.  We did what I consider more cell biology than developmental biology... but still I guess cells must divide to develop. I was amazed at what a cheap antibody from the Hybridoma bank and DAPI could accomplish.  It was more beautiful than anything they showed me in college and much more informative than the cartoon drawings of chromosomes moving around.  Admittedly, the class lost quite a few embryos in the washing, but I was intrigued to know that you didn't need to remove the fertilization envelope to stain.  Interesting...

Three spindles (green) due to the maternal contribution and that of 2 sperm... polyspermy
We got a brief introduction to frogs as Steve Black, a special guest instructor, started preparations for "Frog Day!"  The frogs looked very very squirmy - poor patients for injecting hormones.

And then it was time to cut more.  This time we zoomed up the evolutionary ladder to chickens.  I was hesitant about chickens.  The last time I 'explored' a chick embryo was in third grade.  I didn't like my third grade teacher to begin with (I was vehemently opposed to wearing a sign for weeks that said ILAC - I am Lovable and Capable) and after that lesson I refused to eat eggs for 2 years.  My mother thanks you. Excuse my digression.  This lesson was FAR better... and proved that my third grade teacher was WRONG.

The embryo is NOT the white things on the side.  It is the white swirl in the middle or if its old enough and has made blood it is in the center of the red area (see picture above).  By three days you can see the heart beat and move the blood around.  Very cool.

It was the heart that we went after for our chick experiment.  First we had to remove the embryo from the yolk and perform the surgery - a simple nick to the region of the future heart.  This nick causes the region to separate and form two twin hearts as the chick grows in culture.

3 somite chick at initial isolation in culture and post-surgery.

48 hours later the chick has grown in culture and developed twin hearts. Both hearts were observed to beat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

DMC DB Workshop - Day 1 cut it up

To ease us in to the workshop, we started by learning a couple of tricks on the microscope.  We made our own darkfield filters and reinhart filters.  Quick and easy arts and crafts time.  Reinhart filters were more fun than anything else - instant pop art!  Make a yellow embryo on a red background... Andy Warhol would have been proud.  Unfortunately, I didn't figure out how to use my camera with the microscope until later in the course... arg.  We used some beautiful ciliates to demonstrate the power of the filters and then looked at some sand dollar plutei.

After cutting up filters, we dove right into cutting up organisms.  (The theme of cutting continued throughout the course.)  We chopped planarians, brown and green hydra, and lumbricus worms all in the cause of understanding regeneration... and all in rapid fire, within ~ an hour or two before dinner.

By the end of the course, I had a camera-shy two headed planarian.

After dinner with a glass of wine, we had an introduction to sea urchin larvae - fertilization and first cleavages. I think they actually looked better in pop art than the ciliates, but I might be partial to urchins.