The last couple of weeks have been rough with 499 of our 500 zebrafish larva passing away unexpectedly and having to start back at the beginning of our experiment. However, as every scientist knows “to research is to RE-search,” so this setback has been a great learning experience for troubleshooting our system, caring for the embryonic zebrafish (feeding in specific), and water transfer methods. Troubleshooting in a lab is never-ending and requires hours of reading extra materials like zebrafish manuals and scientific papers.
Caring for the fish is also a constant job, requiring 6 to 10 hours every day to troubleshoot the lab procedures, feed the larva zebrafish, change dirty tank water, and maintain an acceptable environment for them. During these long and tedious days, I am so grateful have such a hardworking and gracious teammates like Nabin Bhattarai, Joseph “Russ” Manteca, and Verona Nicolae. They all exceed expectations of time spent in the lab, effort in troubleshooting, creativeness in overcoming obstacles, and thoughtfulness, which makes the most exhausting of days light and enjoyable.
This weekend is a crucial time for our lab and will give us a better idea of how many of the zebrafish larva will survive to juvenile state so that we can perform behavioral studies on them. I will be overjoyed to see that the endless hours of research has resulted in living zebrafish that will be able to be utilized in our research of psychoactive drugs on non-target humans. However, if they do not survive the next path for my INBRE fellowship is to transfer to another lab and begin new work to present for the conference. I will be disappointed if the larval zebrafish don’t survive because I will have to leave Dr. Thomas’s research team, which I’ve grown so close to. Being in this lab has been an incredible learning experience to aid in setting up a lab and starting from ground zero in many aspects.