Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last Week in the Lab (7/31/17 – 8/7/17)

     This week I injected two eye of round roasts with water (the control) and mushroom solution to compare cook loss, pH, shear force, color, and proteolysis. After letting the meat soak up the solutions overnight, I cut them into steaks and started taking data. It was a little hard for my brain to keep track of so many different procedures, but luckily I had Michelle to guide me. Taking shear force was the most troublesome, because the files in the computer had been re-organized so people across the department were having trouble locating the procedures and data they needed from the computer. As I watched Michelle work out the computer program, I wrote down every action she took, from what the name of the file was in the program, to how to find said file. This was especially important as she and Dr. England would be in Ireland for the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology, and they wouldn’t be able to help me without seeing the problem in person.
     Before Dr. England left, he requested the lab’s help in moving a new graduate student into University Village. Morgan, Christy (a work study student who is currently working on pigtails) and I went to help the new girl move in. The new student, Jennifer, just graduated from Penn State, and has a background focusing on pigs and genetics, so I am interested in learning more about her research. We spent the afternoon helping her clean, do laundry, and building a new sofa, coffee table and dresser from Ikea. The dresser was the most fun to build. It was like a puzzle; we followed instructions to put the frame and drawers together, and were satisfied when the drawers rolled cleanly into the frame to complete the dresser. It was a welcome break from working in the lab, and I look forward to working with Jennifer in the future.
     Over the weekend I volunteered at the Ohio State Fair 4-H Poultry Judging Contest and moved into my new apartment with the help of my family. I was provided a parking pass, admission ticket, and meal ticket for volunteering at the fair. It was a little confusing getting to the contest at first because the building we were originally supposed to be in was surrounded by a chain-link fence and they moved us into the building next door last minute. Luckily, I had Dr. Cressman’s number (he’s the poultry guy in the Animal Science Department), and he was able to direct me to the right place. Once I got there I helped set up the tables for the contest. I made bubble numbers so the kids would be able to identify the meat and egg samples and cracked eggs out onto a plate. The eggs are graded on how fresh they were based on how high the rise of the yolk was and the spread of the egg whites. We had two tables for the broken out eggs, one for the older kids and one for the younger ones, so the eggs for each table had to look pretty close for each grade.
     Once the contest started, I was in charge of leading around and supervising the younger kids in group A. My kids were very well-behaved; they were quiet, polite, and listened to my instructions, so I had a good time. The volunteers were all given aprons and signs to hold up so we would be easy to identify. The judging contest finished at 1pm and I left to explore the fair. I went to the marketplace to grab some souvenirs and to check out the bulk candy section I had heard so much about. I came out with a variety of taffies and sweets, as well as a beautiful alpaca blanket from a Native American vendor. As I walked around the fair, I was tempted to try some of the fair food lining the streets, but was pretty stuffed from lunch and made my way home. My family had driven down from New York with my bed in tow, and I wanted to meet them for dinner.
     Last year I didn’t go home during winter break, so I cherished this time with my family. I brought them to a few restaurants that I thought they would like and their favorite (unsurprisingly) was Joy’s Village, a Chinese restaurant located in the underground mall of the Ohio Stater. “The cook is good!” my mother exclaimed, as we dug into sizzling beef, green beans, and tofu. We also went to go check out the new Ikea store, which was huge, and Costco. The Ikea store was like a beautiful maze of showroom furniture and had a restaurant I had heard good things about. We did not spend a lot of time there because we were tired from moving my things into the apartment, but I would love to go back to get a better look at their showrooms and to try their famed Swedish meatballs. Lack of a car limits my ability to travel the outer parts of Columbus so I took full advantage of the family minivan. It was also invaluable to moving furniture into my new place.
     After saying goodbye to my family, I went back to the lab to test the pH, color and shear force values of my eye of round steaks. Priscilla is flying back to Brazil on the 12th, and it was sad to say goodbye to a cheerful face in the lab. It has been a summer of many new hellos and bittersweet goodbyes. I signed up for research credit in the Autumn semester to fulfill the Honors requirement, so I look forward to coming back when school starts to start putting together a poster and exploring other areas of my project. Thank you to STEP for helping me to fund this experience! I can’t wait to share my project at the STEP Expo. :)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ninth Week in the Lab (7/24/17- 7/30/17)

     Nothing much happened in the lab this week beyond me continuing to nanodrop the mushroom and lung samples. I also ran gels on the side to see if I could get prettier gels for an official publication. The Ohio State Fair also began this week. I was really excited because I had been to the New York State Fair and couldn’t wait to eat fair food and see the livestock shows. Unfortunately, on the very first day one of the rides malfunctioned and ended up killing an attendee. I was worried for my friend who had gone to the fair that day, but luckily she was fine. When I go to the fair I am definitely not going on any of the rides.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eighth Week in the Lab (7/17/17 – 7/23/17)

     I had to get the casein assay ready in time to test Priscilla’s samples. Luckily, once the new procedure was up and running, the nanodrop showed that some of the samples had proteolytic activity that Dr. England wanted from the lung samples. While Priscilla got more lung samples ready for the nanodrop, I had time to assay my mushroom samples to show that they too had proteolytic activity. While the gels showed that the mushroom enzymes could chew up beef proteins, the nanodrop would provide a numerical value to the proteolytic activity. After weeks of aggravation with the casein assay, the results from the nanodrop were looking good.
     Over the weekend I visited an Amish county and the Columbus Jazz and Ribs Festival with some friends. I ended up going to the festival twice with different people and had a great weekend. On Saturday I went on a short field trip to a nearby Amish county with the OSU Office of International affairs. We visited the Amish Heritage Center, where a gorgeous painting details the history of the Amish people. I learned about their persecution, their flight to the New World, and their beliefs in community and pacifism. We also visited the home of an Amish family and learned there are different types of Amish depending on how simply they choose to live their lives and how much they use modern conveniences like cars and technology. Moreover, because the Amish do not use contraceptives, one family can consist of 5-10 children. The Amish are very community based, and have a unique church system. There are around 20 families in each church and every Sunday, church services are located in the barn of a different family, whom also provide lunch following the service. Considering how many children are in each family, you need a lot of room for these events. The community also works together to build the barns for these services and can raise a barn in as quickly as one day.
     For lunch, we were treated to a multi-course, home-cooked meal in the home of another Amish family. There was salad, bread with this peanut butter-marshmallow spread that was delicious, mashed potatoes with brown butter, green beans, chicken, beef, spaghetti, and three different types of pie for dessert. I enjoyed their chocolate mousse pie the most, though by the end I was so stuffed that was all I managed to sample. The meal was served family style with the dishes being brought to the head of the table and then being passed down by the diners. There were even seconds! It was a truly heavenly meal. The Mandela Washington Fellows also attended this trip and at the end of the meal they thanked our hosts with a traditional song and clap. After the meal we were given time to buy souvenirs and ride in an Amish carriage at the main street area of the town. I enjoyed my trip and learned a lot about Amish culture.
     The bus dropped us off at OSU around 6pm. The roads near the Union were blocked off because the Vice President Pence was meeting someone here. I was a little worried because I had parked my bike at the Union, but security was kind enough to let me through. That evening I went to the Jazz and Ribs Festival with my friends Kelly and Sonny. While we were walking from the carpark to the festival, we saw the world’s largest gavel situated between the two justice buildings and decided to take some pictures. I had a great time listening to jazz and exploring the festival. There were companies lined along the bridge at the Scioto Mile (the same location as where the Arts Festival was held) handing out samples of ice cream, mints, almonds, and cheese snacks. We listened to one band, Mojo Flo, do an amazing cover of Redbone by Childish Gambino (who was also in the new Spiderman movie) and their original song Perpetual Conduit of Positivity. They were great! At one point my friends thought I had gotten lost. I was walking around trying to find a bathroom and afterward decided to get some ribs. There were maybe 20 barbecue companies from all over the nation at this festival, and the line for each was at least a 30 minute wait. Ribs in hand, I made it back to my friends and assured them of my well-being. 
     On Sunday I went to the festival again, this time with my friend Alyson and her boyfriend Theo. Because I had attended the day before, I could show them around. We enjoyed the free samples, especially the ice cream, and I even got to test drive a new Ford. Ford had come to entice people with their new cars and offered a $5 Starbucks giftcard to people who test drove their vehicles. Ford also had professional drivers who could drive the car while passengers rode in the back. I insisted on driving myself and was allowed to do so after presenting an ID that showed I was at least 18. The person who rode with me was easy to talk to and made the drive pleasant. I was interested to learn about his job as a professional driver for Ford, and he told me that he drove cars all around the country showing Ford’s newest offerings at various events. He in turned asked me what I was studying and what a food science major could do job-wise. It’s not a major a lot of people have heard of and always requires a little clarification. All in all it was a good week.

Last Week in the Lab (7/31/17 – 8/7/17)

     This week I injected two eye of round roasts with water (the control) and mushroom solution to compare cook loss, pH, shear force, col...