As my summer session at NECO (with a couple courses and clinic time) is coming to an end, I will start working in my third and final lab rotation at the BU med campus. After this rotation, it will be time to official choose/be matched with a lab to complete my PhD at BU. So, the OD/PhD program I’m a part of is slowing transitioning over to the research component. After this fall 2013 and spring 2014, I will officially be at BU as a full-time PhD student.
I have already become decently acquainted with my current lab rotation at BU. I’ve been coming to the lab at least once a week this summer to observe and then started some hands-on involvement. This strategically (credit to my PI) will allow me to jump right into the research once I start full-time on July 8th. So far, I’ve learned how to catch a fish, feed the thousands of fish in the lab, set up fish matings, treat a fish embryo with cocaine, and learned why the zebrafish is an awesome model organism.
Every time I feed the lab’s zebrafish I feel like I’m working at SeaWorld. This is probably due to my many years of SeaWorld experience growing up in Florida where my dad bought us annual passes to the theme park many times. In the fish lab, I grow up shrimp, obtain the most delectable shrimp for fish food, and feed the live shrimp to the zebrafish. These fish literally hunt down the live shrimp. Consistent with a true predator, the zebrafish’s eyes can converge onto their target prey as they hunt for their meal.
The zebrafish is a great model organism for prenatal development, and specifically in this lab they study the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure. The fish are transparent in their first weeks of life, making the internal organs of a live fish visible under the microscope. I’ve seen the heart of the fish pumping, circulating the blood cells through its body. Another great aspect of the zebrafish is its incredibly fast development. You can literally watch the cells divide from two cells to four cells to eight cells, etc. in the microscope if you catch the embryo at the right time.
So as I excitedly look forward to more time in the fish lab, today was my last official clinic day for the rest of the summer. After the end of this week, I will start daily work at BU until the fall. It’s actually a refreshing change to work in science exclusively. Clinic was great experience and I look forward to more, but breaks are welcome, too. Clinic is stressful at times, of course, but that means you’re being challenged and will improve from those experiences. Patients come with chief complaints, risk factors, pre-existing conditions, and long lists of medications. After working exclusively with the pediatric population last year, it has been a very different world with adults and the elderly. I have learned much in my six weeks in clinic this summer and look forward to more experience in the fall.
For now, my fish will be excitedly welcoming me (as they have learned when food is coming) and I will continue my SeaWorld-esque fish life.