Differences in Lab Environments

Hello blogging connoisseurs! I hope that you are all doing well since my last post. From Safari to Beaches (my next blog post to look forward to) it’s time for me to delve back into the sundry tastes of working in the lab. If you wish for a happier blog, perhaps revisit my last safari blog, because no matter where you are in the world, an internship does not mean that everything will go right!

I thought that, before I got here, bioremediation of wastewater using microalgae sounded pretty interesting. And when I read about it, it does sound like a really interesting concept. However, the doing side of things only bores me to tears. What my project focuses on is finding the best conditions to grow microalgae. When you have a large amount of the microalgae, you can then test its qualities to absorb excess chemicals from the water; mainly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, which contribute most to global eutrophication problems.

Most of the time that I am here, the work is very simple and repetitive: pipette 1ml of A into test tube B; the same from B to C etc. It’s all dull methodology that I have done in the first year of University. And, to be honest, it was simple as to what I should have expected when I signed up for this internship. The idea was to gain technical experience, while I feel like I am revisiting the basics!

There is also a problem with the labs here themselves. They are run in such an inefficient manner, or at least when it comes to staff attitudes towards interns’ work.

For 1 week, I was pestering my guide as to when we could decant some water from an 80L bottle, to concentrate the algae growing within. He said that due to health and safety, I need to be supervised (by him – no problem) using a specific room which needed to be booked… this is where the problem arises. Getting this room booked took so much longer than it needed. I asked my guide to book it every day with the same: ‘I will book it tomorrow’ line. After a week of this, I went to the person responsible to book it myself. But, the first time I could book it for was 2 weeks later! We completed the decanting a couple of days ago and it took 20 MINUTES. Not only had time been wasted waiting for this procedure, but it was so simple I had to question: the need for a special room and the need for supervision when it was simply pouring from one bottle to another.

3 weeks wasted, and one thing I have learnt in India… allow a couple of weeks if you ever want anything to get done!

Though, there are 3 more weeks to go and I do have faith that I will be exposed to new, interesting techniques. Something has to get better, right?!

Dreaded decanting!

Dreaded decanting!

My starter algae <3

My starter algae <3

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About Chris

Chris has now graduated from the University of Leicester. I'm a guy finishing my Undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences (with a year abroad) at the University of Leicester. After a fun year in Finland, I will be getting down to the nitty gritty of life for a final year in Biology (specifically Microbiology). Along with a rant on studying, there will be a sprinkling of society chatter and my imminent thoughts on growing up into graduation and the beyond!

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