Alex Boyd studied a Bachelor of Pre-Medicine, Science & Health at the University of Wollongong and is now a Graduate at ANSTO. Here, she shares an average working day…
“I wake up and head to the kitchen to make breakfast (always two Weetbix with a banana, and a cup of tea). The first half an hour of my day is spent slowly waking up, eating, watching the news, and catching up on any missed phone notifications.
“Now I panic, as I only have 15 minutes to get ready. Time for teeth, hair and make-up, getting dressed and packing my bag. I leave home at 7:15am for ANSTO.
“Arrive at my office, make a cup of tea, and log into my computer. I start the morning by catching up on emails, reading any announcements on the intranet and making a plan for the day. I then walk over to the lab to check on cells in culture. The cells from yesterday’s experiment look good, but the cells I am growing for the next experiment have been same media (growing liquid) for a few days, and they look a little hungry. It is time to transfer the cells to fresh media, so I put the liquids I need in the bead bath to warm up and turn the UV light on in the biosafety cabinet to sterilise the air in the cabinet. I then head back to the office to do some research for a literature review I am writing.
“I head back up to the lab. In yesterday’s experiment, we challenged some of our cells with radiation and chemicals, and today I need to collect the media they are growing in to see if they have secreted any molecules which may indicate the biological response. I sterilise everything going into the biosafety cabinet with 70 per cent ethanol. We don’t want to contaminate the cells. The samples I collect are frozen at -80C and will be tested another day.
“The media I placed in the bead bath are now warm enough to be used for passaging the cells. I detach the cells from the wall of the old cell cultural flask and put them in some fresh media to count them. I am now the mother of 7.6 million cells! I keep one million cells to continue growing, putting them in a new flask and into the cell incubator.
“I head back into the office and the first thing I do is document what I have done and what I have observed in my laboratory book. It is important to do this as it forms part of the projects intellectual property and allows us to find the source of an error if something in the experiment didn’t work as intended.
“After this, I continue to research and write my literature review. I inevitably get a few emails in this time that require actions.
“Lunch time. Most days I will bring my own lunch, but the café on site is a great place to meet up and have a bite with the other graduates. We all work on different projects and studied different things at university, which makes us more of a social group than work colleagues. It is great to chat to like minded people who are in the same boat as you.
“I return to my office (with another cup of tea) and find an email from my supervisor asking me to complete a risk assessment. Some substances we use in our experiments are potentially harmful to human health and the environment, and so we need to use them in a safe and controlled manner. I fill out the form and send it to him to review, having researched the effects of the substance.
“I double check the learning portal online to make sure I am up to date with training.
“Time to commute home for the day. I prefer to start early and finish early so I can avoid heavy traffic and so have more time in my afternoons. The last thing I do before leaving is log my hours.
“Once home, I use my afternoons to unwind and switch off. If I am not too exhausted, I try to squeeze some exercise in. Some days, I will go out and volunteer in the afternoon, or hang out with friends. Other days I may stay in playing video games or baking. At around 6pm I cook dinner with my brother.
“I flop into bed, put on a podcast, and drift off to sleep. Get ready to do it all again tomorrow!”
This article was originally published by Grad Australia.
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Author: STEM Contributor
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