Week 2

This week saw a lot of progress for the lab.

We were able to finish the table set up.  It is pictured below. To the left you can see the blue laser. This laser is sent through a pin hole to a mirror that reflects the beam to the right at a beam splitter.  The beam splitter sends part of the beam towards the slide holder, and another part to the black shield at the right.

On the right is the Helium Neon laser (red laser).  The red laser is aligned to also go through the beam splitter and to the slide holder.

This set up allows us to easily switch between the lasers without having to adjust the set up.  A slide will be placed on the slide holder, and as the beam passes through the object on the slide, a diffraction pattern will then be read by a photo diode detector.

This week I also learned how to grow and maintain the C. elegans population we will be using for analysis.  This process involves using a microscope to transfer a few mature C. elegans to a new tray with food from a pre-existing non-mutated population.  These mature worms will then reproduce and give rise to a new population.  The C. elegans are on a four day maturation cycle meaning that it takes four days for then to mature to adult stage.  Therefore we have to repeat this process four days prior to when we want to use the worms in the lab in order to ensure they are at the correct cycle for analysis.

If all goes well, next week we may be able to start collecting actual data!

Final Table Set Up
Final Table Set Up

Week 1

Hi everyone! I would first like to introduce myself. I am Trey Cimorelli, a sophomore here at Vassar College. I will be a lab intern this semester in VAOL working mostly on the C. elegans project, and I’m extremely excited. 

As this is my first time working in a research lab, the first week was my opportunity to learn the ropes.  I have some experience in lab through intro physics and chemistry classes my freshman year, and also some from high school. However the VAOL lab is completely different from anything I have worked with in the past.

We spent last week (unofficial week one) setting up the lab after the move to the new, absolutely beautiful, Sanders Physics building.  Many boxes of different instruments and equipment had to be unpacked and needed homes in the lab.  After the bulk of the boxes were removed and the lab was semi-organized, the lab table was ready for set up.

Before we began to set up the table, I first had to watch a laser safety video in order to learn how to safely and properly use the lasers we will be dealing with.  The lasers we use are for the most part very safe, however for the blue laser we must wear safety goggles.  I also had to learn how to handle and clean the optics. This process involves using a piece of lens paper, folding it multiple times with forceps, and then wetting it with a few drops of methanol or acetone and wiping in one direction across the optic piece. Proper cleaning and handing of the optics is necessary to obtain a clear image.

After that we were able to start the table set up.  This is a very tedious and time consuming process and we have only just begun to mount the lasers and some of the other pieces (pin hole, mirrors, etc) onto the lab table.

Next we will have to finish mounting the rest of the necessary optics and align the set up.  I also have to learn how to handle and grow the worms, and will be continuing to further my knowledge on the equipment and basis of the C. elegans experiment.