These last few days have been hectic. Between scoring, working on my poster, assisting with surgery, and running subjects, I have kept busy.
We have collected four out of 100 subjects for our project. This may make it seem like we have long ways to go, which we do, but what may not be apparent is how much we have accomplished this summer.
We piloted out our project and wrote a protocol. This process involved a lot of trial and error and editing our protocol as we piloted to find the exact steps that work. The most notable part of this protocol is the reflex testing. The reflex protocol will be used for later experiments in our lab, including being adapted for testing adolescent rats. We also set up and figured out a protocol for the Von Frey unit, allowing us to measure sensory thresholds. Using this protocol we have run four subjects.
We worked on a literature review. I have read sixteen articles and book chapters this summer and analyzed the information in an annotated bibliography. I synthesized this information to come up with hypotheses for my variables.
We have had the opportunity to assist with many surgeries. Before this summer, I had only assisted in surgery as second assistant, meaning I weighed the pups, anesthetized the pups, and administered pain meds. However, I had never assisted as first assistant, meaning suturing the surgical incision. Improving at this skill has been a wonderful experience and allows me to be more helpful in the lab.
Scoring the videos these last few days has also been a learning process. I now feel comfortable using DataView and am getting more reliable scoring the different behaviors, including walking, standing, partial-rearing, rearing, hindlimb active crawling, crawling, pivoting, and hindlimb kicks.
I have gained so much from this INBRE experience. Rather than just collecting data from an already-made protocol, I have been able to contribute to many more aspects of the project. I am so lucky to have such a supportive mentor, graduate students, and fellow undergraduate to work on this project with every step of the way!