Featured ‘Day in the life of’: Daisy, Postdoc at Harvard Medical School.

I’m Daisy Shu, a postdoc at Harvard Medical School, studying the role of mitochondria and cellular metabolism in retinal eye diseases. I just moved to Boston from Sydney for my postdoc and am absolutely loving it in this new city! In my spare time, I love doing yoga (recently got into Bikram yoga) and running (finished my first half-marathon a few months ago!). I love science communication and sharing my research via social media (@EyeDaisyShu on Instagram and Twitter).

As a researcher, everyday is different and full of surprises and this means there’s a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Some days, I’m working non-stop at the bench or in the tissue culture room and other days I’ll be glued to my computer screen with writing but mostly, I try to have a healthy balance of lab and computer work each day.

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I had lived in Sydney my whole life up until I made the big move to Boston 6 months ago. I’ve slowly figured my way around and actually love taking public transport around Boston – it’s so easy and convenient, especially since Boston is such a small city. I take the light rail every day to work (known locally as “the T”).

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My lab is situated on the third floor of Schepens Eye Research Institute, right in the heart of Boston. Looks like I almost made it in before 9am according to my time stamp.

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First thing I do is put my western blot membranes on the shaker to rinse off the primary antibody, ready for the secondary antibody incubation step which takes 2 hours. I’ve got two membranes to image today that I had prepared yesterday by incubating overnight in the primary antibodies.

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Time to water my plants. My orchid has been growing so well (top tip, buy orchid plant food – it works a treat and helps orchids thrive). Last week was my birthday and my partner got me a beautiful bouquet (top tip, adding ice can help prolong cut flowers)

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Special delivery for me! My friend Menglu (@y.menglu on Instagram who is an amazing clinician scientist) sent me a birthday bracelet. It encapsulates what I stand for so well! Go women in STEM!

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Two hours is up and it’s time to image my western blot membranes! Fingers crossed I get some bands!

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Time for lunch with my lab mates. It’s great to take some time out to chat with lab mates especially since I mostly work independently on my experiments.

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More deliveries today – this is Tissue-Tek OCT Compound used for embedding specimens for cryo-sectioning. No excuses now, I gotta start my experiments!

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Time for me to thaw out some cells ready for a new experiment. These cells are stored in a liquid nitrogen tank. You have to work quickly and efficiently when taking out your cells since it’s super cold and you don’t want the other cells to thaw. A tip for increasing efficiency is to label the top of your tubes with a symbol so you know what vial to take at a glance. For example, my cone photoreceptor cell line is labelled with a triangle to symbolize a cone.

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Doing a bit of reading on models of proliferative vitreoretinopathy, a serious eye disease that affects the retina. It can occur after surgery for retinal detachment and can lead to blindness. My current research project explores the metabolic changes that occur during this disease with the aim of finding novel drug targets.

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Time to hit the gym. Today, I’m doing body pump (one of my favourite classes by Les Mills that involves lots of weight lifting) followed by a relaxing yoga session.

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And that’s a wrap! Time to head home on the T and unwind for the day ready for another jam-packed day tomorrow!

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