Friday, February 2, 2007

Histology 101

This week has come to a decent close, I suppose. My math test went really well I thought.. I went in to talk to the teacher an hour before the test and that really helped. I'll be disapointed if I don't get an A on it. My organic chem test was a different story (Ugh). I ended up studying for some things other than what were on the test and wasted a decent amount of time that way. I know of at least a good 15points that I missed just by not knowing what-the-hell to do. I'll be happy if I can pull off a B on that one.

It snowed early Thursday morning.. the day of my organic chem test. All of the roommates thought it would be fun to make lots of noise at 3am and go play in the snow. UAH is never canceled, so I just knew that I would end up taking the organic chem test at 9am with a lack of sleep...and studying. The snow was nice.. I somehow seemed to enjoy the new scenery. It's not every day that you see a white Alabama morning.

Ah! All of the plants in our Honors Lab died(!!).. with the exception of the dozen that I saved by transplanting to my dorm. Well.. There goes my project that I was going to do--contrasting the lab conditions to the dorm room conditions--but at least I should get some extra points for doing what everyone else did wrong. You would figure that a dozen honors students could water some plants. *sigh* It was interesting to have Dr. Garstka up to talk to us about the Dinosaur dig though. It's odd how I'm connected to people this semester--my organic chem lab TA is my lab partner in my honors bio lab, and my bio lab TA is Rachel--the one teaching us how to do the histology research. Ahh.. So Garstka said that he chewed someone out for not properly doing the dehydrations, which turned out to be a good thing. Loren (one of the 4 of us doing the special topics class ...notice I said 4.. someone dropped it) got the profane volume on how to properly dehydrate samples. At least we know what the hell to do in the lab now.

Garstka is an interesting fellow. He's decently old, retired, and knows everything. Apparently he took retirement because of health reasons--although that's not the story that I heard. I'm wondering if I could spend two months with the man in total isolation during the dino dig. He also seems to be somewhat of a flirt or something. Makes me think of Coach Ellis from my high school days; albeit he's a much much much (redundant? I think not!) more intelligent person. It will be interesting.. I've learned a good bit by just being around him.

Histology: Well.. We've all properly dehydrated some practice fish samples and I embedded mine in wax today. Thankfully we were able to save some of the samples since they hadn't been properly de-calcified. It's been an interesting week--having to schedule the dehydrations around my classes. It's going to be interesting when we have 30 fish to dehydrate rather than just one. Anyhow.. If you're curious in the procedure: the samples are preserved in a 10% formalin solution, and then soaked overnight in Bouin's Fixative to sharpen the colors of the slides later on down the line. They are then rinsed with DI water over a few hours, and placed into a few baths of varying concentrations of ethyl alcohol. A few hours in Toluene, and Xylene, and then the samples are ready to be set in paraffin. The whole process takes a bit over 16 hours if you know what you're doing.
Woo.. With some knowledge on how to get started, we're heading out to the Walls of Jerico to collect 30 Notropis telescopus under a special use permit tomorrow. It's going to be an exciting, yet cold, venture. I've been waiting all week for this!! Unfortunately it feels like I'm starting to come down with a cold. I thought it was just the lack of sleep on Thursday, but I think it's dead-set on becoming a full-fledged cold. Hopefully it will stay off me until Sunday.

Attached are some pictures that I've taken during my time in the research lab:
You can't see it too well, but this is 190 proof ethanol!!! ( It'll get-cha drunk!)

Some of Garstka's latest catchings: Cottonmouth, Garter Snake, Alligator Penis.
No joke.. the thing on the bottom left... yes :D Preserved just for us!

This is our lab setting, with chemicals improperly set up.

My hand, near the improper procedure!! (thanks Dr. Garstka!)



haley said...

**laughs at improper procedure pics**
I'm so happy you posted!! :D

Sorry you're getting sick, though...
:( I hope it doesn't ruin your fish collecting.

Aside from that, you're in for an interesting rest-of-the-year I think... and summer. ;)

Have a good time-between-now-and-your-next-post, however long that is!

melissa said...

Fish are cool.

haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Stalking ftw :)

Sarah said...

:P sure that ethanol will get you drunk, if you like methanol poisoning. They use MeOH to stabilize it as well as keep people from drinking it.:P

Oh, and its weak anyway, I have several cases of PGA in my lab...hehehe.

Look forward to seeing those slide pics from lab, but I am not sure how this thing already knows my name considering I don't have an account with this sight...creepy.

Toya Kazumi