Andrew’s blog

This piece of text is about my experience working at the Gene Technology Access Centre, G.T.A.C for short.


On the first day Connor and I used the TM3030, a high powered electron microscope. We looked at a petal of a Geranium at x100, x200 & x2500 magnification and I noticed strange white spots on the petal, which I thought was dust or dirt because the white spots were too big to be pollen.

Next Connor and I looked at another flower called Dietes. We looked at another petal of the flower and I noticed that there were raised bits on the petal and found out it makes a landing strip for bees. We took the stem of the flower and cut it down the middle, zoomed in on that and saw the ovules, which was cool. The microscope could zoom in x5000.

Ovules in the flower stem (x50 magnification)

Ovules in the flower stem (x50 magnification)

The landing strip for bees (x1000 magnification)

The landing strip for bees (x1000 magnification)









Emilie, Connor and I pipetted DNA samples into the E-gel which is a machine which has 8 wells with a negative charge on one end and a positive charge at the other end and in the middle, is a sieve-like gel, so basically the E-gel is a sorting machine. After one minute the separated DNA started to glow green. How the E-gel works. When it is turned on, the DNA is attracted to the positive charge, pulling itself though the E-gel, sorting itself.


On Tuesday, the three of us did reception work getting ready for Wednesday, which was World Immunology Day. We made name tags and information packs for the students and teachers.

At lunch Catherine took me, Emilie and Connor through a very small part of Melbourne University to get lunch but it seemed so big to me that my internal compass flipped when we left.

After lunch me, Emilie and Connor learnt more about genes. I learnt if a person has a disease but doesn’t show any signs of having the disease they are called a healthy carrier. If the person has the disease and shows signs of having the disease, they are unhealthy.


On Wednesday was World Immunology Day. First we had a lecture from Phil Hodgkin and he talked about the history of Immunology. After Phil, Sir Gustav Nossal talked about vaccines and stats. Around the world about 19 million children are not immunised each year. In Australia, Byron Bay is the place with the most unvaccinated people. After morning tea Emilie, Connor & I played the immunology game in the computer lab where we got to control anti-bodies and control the immune system to get rid of viruses and parasites. In the next activity we learnt about communicable and non-communicable diseases. Then we looked at diseases in a mouse through a microscope, we looked at a healthy and an arthritic knee & a healthy and a diseased spleen.

During lunch we could speak to people who are getting or have got their PhD and we got to talk to three people.

After lunch we went to the Nossal laboratory where we did a test to find if subject 1 or subject 2 had a sickness that was spreading through the hospital that they both work at. In the wells were proteins from the sickness. First we applied the anti-body and if the anti-body locked on to the proteins, that bond is unbreakable. Next we got rid of the anti-body that didn’t lock on with a wash buffer. Then we applied a cow anti-body that had an enzyme attached to the anti-body, then the cow anti-body bonded with the human anti-body. We washed out the unbound anti-body with the wash buffer. The next step was to add a chemical that reacts with the enzyme attached to the cow anti-body and turns the liquid blue. It turns out that subject 1 had the sickness and was put into quarantine so that he does not infect other people.


At the start of Thursday me, Emilie & Connor played the immunology game until the lecture started.

Thursday was basically a repeat of Wednesday but the difference between Wednesday and Thursday was Sir Gustav Nossal was not there but Phil Hodgkin was there. We sat in the lecture and Phil spoke the whole time. Next we made agar plates from scratch. We added agar, tryptone, starch and sodium which got heated and pressurised then got poured into Petri dishes. Next we pipetted 20 µL of deionised water (pure water) into vials for an experiment. We did 57 sets of 6.


Friday I basically spent four hours of writing my blog. After lunch I planned an experiment for growing bacteria on the Agar plates we made. I would take a control swab with no bacteria on it, then three other swabs: one of the railing of the staircase, one of the opening handle to the staff fridge and the last one of a computer keyboard, to see how much bacteria there was.

I would like to thank Miss Loving for giving me this opportunity to do my work experience at GTAC.

I would also like to thank all the staff at GTAC for running me through and helping me with all the activities they set up for me, Emilie and Connor.

I would also like to thank Sir Gustav Nossal and Phil Hodgkin for coming in and telling us about immunology and vaccines.