Day in the Life of a 3rd Year Neuroscience PhD Student - July 2020
I get to work about 7.30am, ready for the day! I'm running a little later than usual, as I normally try and get in before or around 7am, but I know I have a busy day ahead so I don't beat myself up about it.
At 8am, I have my weekly meeting with my supervisor. I've just been ticking along with everything I need to do, so I'm out of the meeting quite quickly by around 8.20am. These weekly meetings really help me to stay on track with my work and know what I should be doing, and are really great times for problem solving when issues arise!
Straight after my meeting with my supervisor, I record a short 2 minute "flash talk" to accompany the online poster for the conference I'm attending later in the week. Once I've filmed that, and yes it did take a few tries to get it right, I edit it in iMovie so that my diagrams and data are also visible whilst I'm explaining what my poster is about and what we found. I also do this with a coffee I've gotten from our regular coffee spot on campus.
At 10.30am, it's into the lab time! Today I'm finishing off an immunohistochemistry experiment in wells. This involves putting on my secondary antibodies and allowing them to incubate for two hours. It takes me about an hour (with help) to get my secondary antibodies on my samples. This is my first time doing an immuno in wells (I usually do this type of stain on slides) so the last couple of days have been a steep learning curve! In this run, I'm staining for astrocytes, microglia and protein nitration!
Whilst I wait for my secondary antibodies to do their magic, I head back to my desk for some lunch and to do some work on my literature review. I've recently been inspired to go back through my literature review and go over all my references and put them in a spreadsheet. I'm finding this so useful, as I'm not only finding my memory of certain topics is being refreshed, but I'm picking up things in the papers I'm rereading that should really have gone in my literature review before! Plus I'm also finding holes in my review that I can now go back and fill in. I'm doing this alongside making the corrections my supervisor suggested for my document, so all in all, I think my literature review is going to be so much better once I'm finished with it!
At 1.30pm, my secondary antibodies have finished incubating, and it's time to wash them off! I spend the next two hours washing off my secondary antibodies, applying Hoescht (which stains nuclear DNA and allows me to identify cells and navigate the brain based on cellular patterns), and washing Hoescht off.
Around 3.30pm, I've finally finish with the wells. I didn't have time to mount my samples onto slides this day, so I did that the following day! But all in all, I'm really happy with how the process went, and there weren't any major failures so I was happy with that for a first attempt (although I did nearly knock a well plate off the bench).
Not long after that, I notice the time and realise I'm running late to my next meeting. So I pick up all my books and head downstairs to have our weekly team meeting!
Just after 5pm, our meeting finishes. It was a super productive meeting and I came out of it feeling far more in control and positive about the direction of my projects than I did walking in.
At around 5.30pm, my day concludes and it's time to go home. It was a busy 10 hours, and I achieved a lot, but I definitely went home very tired and ready to have a bit of rest (although I did inevitably do a bit more work that evening before bed).