Since I first started my internship in Dr. Pilarski’s lab I can say I have improved immensely. I have learned about things that I never even knew existed like slicing a brainstem with a vibratome. By cutting the brainstem we can take a closer look at the cells. From just walking into the lab I was introduced to new science terminology and to this day my vocabulary is still growing tremendously. An example would be when discussing the brainstem; where the front is called ventral, back is dorsal, top is rostral, and bottom is coddle. I have also learned new names for science tools and how to properly work in a lab environment.
Pertaining to my specific project, the waiting game is still going on. In these past few weeks I have practiced injecting the zebra finch bird with a Hamilton syringe. There were a couple complications with the syringe so the original plan had to change, but that is all what science is about; finding the best way to complete an experiment. I am now using a set of different tools to complete the injection. The tools that I am using are a small syringe, a filter, and a glass pipette. The technique is more complicated, but I enjoy going through the process of inserting the dye into the glass pipette and thankfully my mentor has helped me through the process. To be able to inject the dye the muscle of the zebra finch bird has to be contracting, which was amazing to be able to see through the microscope. That was something I had never seen before and it was such a wonderful experience. I have injected the muscle a couple of times with the dye, but I still have not seen any results of where the motor pool is located in the brainstem. After injecting the muscle and leaving it overnight in the cerebral spinal fluid, I fix the tissue in paraformaldehyde. Then I cut the brainstem so it can be looked under the fluorescence microscope.
These past few weeks have consisted of a lot of patience and waiting to see how the muscle reacts to the dye. I have learned already so many things in the Dr. Pilarski’s lab and I am excited to learn more things. My favorite part about my internship is being able to use a very expensive microscope to see the fluoresce dye. It is very exciting to see the glowing of the dye in the brainstem and to think that we are so close to discovering the origin of the motor pool. I now have to keep injecting muscles and nerves to gather data for my poster. I am very thankful for this experience because I will be able to use all this knowledge in college and in my everyday life.