Emilie’s blog


Emilie’s blog

This blog is about my work experience at GTAC.

Monday

So my first day at the GTAC centre was amazing. Unfortunately I came at 12.00pm because I had to get braces. When I came to the centre all the people introduced me with a lovely welcome. Jeni who was at the front office showed me around. Then I went into the lab with another Jenny and did some fun laboratory work which included using a pipette, which we used to put DNA samples in small tubes in a tube rack. We had 4 sets of DNA (mother, father, daughter and son) for an experiment that was being set up for a primary school lab. Then we loaded some DNA into an e-gel, which after 5 minutes you can just see the lines of the DNA gradually accumulating.

After that, I made my way to the library at lunch (I love that library, many books to choose from!) and came back to start my second part of the day.  The afternoon included learning exactly what the DNA on the e-gel scans meant. I learnt about the different outcomes with different severe diseases if one dominant parent had a baby with a recessive parent and looking at the DNA to see how much that could impact on the baby or not. Everyone so far has been so friendly here and if I never understood anything they explained it in full detail and made sure I understood it before we moved on. I really enjoyed the first day and look forward to the whole week ahead! 

Tuesday

Today Andrew and I got the 7.00am train, and after a lot of aggravation with trams, we finally reached our destination. We started off the day by setting up the practical experiment for the year 12s, which was great fun as I got to use the pipette again. We went around checking all the right equipment was on each of 5 tables for the students and then did some other laboratory work. During this afternoon nothing exciting really happened, we were just helping get ready for the students coming in tomorrow. Right at the end of the day I tried this DNA helix puzzle which I really enjoyed. Considering as it’s only Tuesday, I’ve already learned a significant amount of knowledge that I would never have heard of anywhere else and I absolutely love this whole experience.

Wednesday

Well, this day has definitely been the best day of the week so far. We started with a lecture from Professor Phil Hodgkin and Sir Gustav Nossal. They talked about many interesting things to do with immunology and antibodies; they also talked about the different viruses and how the difference varies between first world and third world countries.  I found the whole process exceedingly interesting.

Prof. Phil Hodgkin speaking about antibodies and clonal selection.

Prof. Phil Hodgkin speaking about antibodies and clonal selection.

Sir Gustav Nossal speaking about the history of immunology.

Sir Gustav Nossal speaking about the history of immunology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our lecture, we all gathered into a giant room with all these amazing scientists as they talked about their experiences with the other students. About ten of us sat at each table. The scientists would go on like “speed dating” processes where they talked to us for ten minutes then rotated in a clockwise order. Some of the scientist had done some amazing things, some were in the process of doing amazing things, but it was all so fascinating to talk to real live scientists. It also really motivated me to follow my dreams of becoming an oncologist as it showed that these complex things are achievable. The scientist who the students and I talked to were Vanessa Bryant, Rose Ffrench and Jimmy Leong.

Andrew, Connor and I did three workshops during the day. The first one was working with the year 12s in the Pittard labrotory playing the immune system game on the GTAC website. I discovered a lot from the game, for example, I now know that macrophages consume the pathogens by engulfing them. Also that group A streptococcus bacteria can infect the throat and skin. Strep infections vary from very mild to life threatening. The game also taught me about dendritic cells and how they engulf pathogens and antigens.

The second workshop was learning about the immune system and arthritis in the Doherty laboratory, it occurred to me how it starts and how you can identify the cells that cause arthritis.  The third workshop was in the Nossal laboratory where we learnt more about infections and antibodies and used pipettes to test different outcomes that could occur. We were also discussing type 1 diabetes. What I learned today was all very noteworthy.

Thursday

Wednesday was very much the same as Thursday. We had another lecture with Phil Hodgkin with different year 12 students. We listened to the scientists at the speed dating tables again.

In the afternoon we did some really fun science photography with Rachael and I took a photo of a bee. I was very proud of myself.

Friday

This morning I’ve just been working on my blog, then before lunchtime I did some amazing work with the scanning electron microscope. First we looked at the flower parts under a dissecting microscope. Then we used the electron microscope. It had a metal plate and we put some stigmas and anthers onto the sticky tape, which help the pieces stick to the metal plate. We then put the pollen into the microscope and saw the most amazing detail in the plant. It was truly spectacular what you can see beyond the human eye and makes you think about many things we have yet to see.

I drew this diagram of a flower to show the parts we were looking at under the microscope.

I drew this diagram of a flower to show the parts we were looking at under the microscope.

The hibiscus stigma (x50 magnification) on the left, pollen attached to the stigma (x300 magnification) in the centre and me using the electron microscope to take these images on the right

The hibiscus stigma (x50 magnification) on the left, pollen attached to the stigma (x300 magnification) in the centre and me using the electron microscope to take these images on the right

I would just like to thank everyone for this amazing experience.