First, I must begin with a story about my shower last night. I turned on the shower in my teeny tiny bathroom. The water came out with such force that it moved the shower head and proceeded to soak a fully clothed me and my entire bathroom! Cleaning that up was quite an adventure. Then, once I got in the shower, the shower head would keep wandering around and spraying out onto the floor. I ended up having to hold the shower head in my hand the entire time. I can tell you already, this is going to be really really old in 7 weeks.
So I went to work today and basically did nothing again. I have been working on spike sorting the same thing for the past two days, and the program keeps crashing—so then I have to start over. I finally just gave up on it.
We had a lab meeting at which I got to hear a little about everyone’s projects. I am really excited about some of them. I won’t bore you with all the scientific detail here, just suffice it to say, it is cool!
Then we did Lab Safety. Boring, but necessary.
Then I had some time off, during which I went and bought a bus pass and went to anmelden. (In Germany, you have to register with the government when you stay for an extended period of time and whenever you move.) There was a huge line of people in front of me, so I had to wait forever.
Then I went back to work and we all left together to go to our lab cookout (they called it a BBQ, but being from NC there is a difference between a cookout and a BBQ….this was a cookout!), which was at my lab supervisor’s house. Ate some awesome food. Drank this awesome German alcoholic beverage with fresh fruit in it. Talked in German. Talked about science. Saw a plane flying backwards. I kid you not.
When I got back to the dorm, tons of people were hanging out in the kitchen. Several of them chased after me to introduce themselves and invited me to join them. So, I ended up hanging out with my hall mates: Adam, Matthias, Debra, Conrad, Marco, Ella, Carolin, Marcus, Irene, and Guiseppo. All of them are German except for Debra (Spanish), Adam (English), Guiseppo (Italian), and me. So I got to speak a lot of German! YAY. They were all super impressed with my German abilities, because all of the Americans they have met before cannot speak German. They also thought it was awesome that I am from NC, because Michael Jordan is from there! I was shocked that Marco even knew who the Charlotte Bobcats were! (P.S. Marco is the attractive cook from the other night.)
Anyways, they were all super nice and friendly, and I stayed up way too late hanging out with them.
I spent the day at work doing research and reading papers about the retina, vision in general, and patch clamping.
In the afternoon, I got to patch clamp….quite possibly the coolest thing since sliced bread. So in this project they have some cells that are “blind,” which means that they are not light sensitive because they are lacking a specific type of channel that is necessary to be light sensitive. One of the PhD students took Hek cells, which are found in the kidney and are super easy to grow and transfect, and transfected them with a channel-rhodopsin. The cells are also mutated to be fluorescent, so we can find them under a microscope. Rhodopsin is really light sensitive to blue light. It has taken her 2 years (!!!) to get this right, and today it worked for the first time! We patch clamped the cell and then flashed blue and green light at it. You could see a visible response to the blue light on the recording equipment. So that means that she made a cell “see”!!!. So her next step is to do it in an actual retina. I literally watch a cell be able to “see” again today! AHHH! Tomorrow I get to learn how to patch clamp a ganglion cell in an actual retina. That will be a little bit different because the cells today were in solution, whereas the ganglion cells are in a tissue.
I then went into the old city to meet my family for dinner, where I ate some delicious Maultaschen (my new favorite Schwaebischer dish) and an amazing salad, while sitting on the Neckar-the river that flows through town. Afterwards, we walked around the old city a bit. It is absolutely beautiful. I didn’t have my camera because I came straight from work, but I promise pictures are to come!
Also, Tuebingen is the place where DNA was discovered! SO COOL. They have a giant DNA helix in the city square. So, awesome science has been going on here for quite some time!
We then ate dessert on the city square. The Rathaus that sits on the city square drove me nuts because the entire thing is asymmetrical. I ate Himbeer-Schmand, which was basically a raspberry cheesecake sort of thing.
I then went to the store and bought some much needed items, said goodbye to my family, and headed home.
Another long day that went by so fast. I am already realizing that 7 weeks is going to fly by. It is much too short….maybe App will let me stay here for a while longer??