Dr. Marc Frischer continues his blog postings on his current research expedition to Barrow, Alaska.
Day 6 into our trip, just past the mid-point. After spending most of the day in the lab, the first set of RNA samples have been processed and are awaiting shipment back to Skidaway.
One of the primary goals of our work is to understand the underlying mechanisms that allow bacteria to adapt and respond to a changing environment, particularly to changes in the nutrients available to them. To do this one of the things we’re looking at is the genetic expression of important genes involved in nutrient assimilation. To get at those questions we need to look at their messenger RNA (mRNA), but because mRNA is typically very unstable, this is not an easy task.
To put some perspective on the problem, a typical mRNA molecule, if left alone, will degrade in seconds. Much of the challenge for us during these studies is to get the bacterial mRNA stabilized so that we can analyze it. Basically, that is what we were doing in the lab today, extracting, purifying, and stabilizing the mRNA from the bacteria we collected on our filters.
Besides working in the lab and getting ready for another sampling trip on the ice tomorrow, we did manage to enjoy the relatively relaxed day. First off, I started by oversleeping, something I haven’t been able to do for it seems months. Even though I missed breakfast, I think the sleep did me a lot more good than breakfast would have. Finally, I seem to be kicking the cold I’ve been struggling with for the past couple of weeks.
Later in the day we enjoyed another beautiful sunrise. The sun rose today at 12:27pm, 43 minutes earlier than on January 24th when the sun first rose. The sun was visible for 1hr and 8 minutes today.
What’s really remarkable is how much it changes from day to day this time of year. On the day we leave next week the sun will rise at 11:23 am.
This evening we were invited to a dinner hosted by Peggy Cowan.
Peggy is the superintendent of the North Slope Borough School District Board of Education and a friend of Savannah’s Joyce Murlless. Peggy started her career in Savannah as a teacher at Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Joyce made the introduction for me and we jumped at the opportunity. Peggy invited several local science teachers, other educators and planners, and Deb, Tish and myself for dinner at her home. We had an absolutely lovely evening eating pizza and getting to know each other. We’re hoping that this will lead to some long term collaborations whereby we can contribute back to the local community. Thanks for the hook-up Joyce!
Upon returning we celebrated Lollie’s 61st birthday.
The rest of the team had baked a cake and decorated the hut. Lollie blew out the candles. Happy Birthday Lollie!