Featured Day in the Life of; Jayne-Louise second year PhD candidate in cancer research.
Hello! My name is Jayne-Louise (AKA SlinkyScience) and I am a second year PhD Candidate in cancer research with the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute based at the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia.
My lab group has a focus on cancer cell biology, which means we look at the inner workings of normal cells and cancer cells to try and figure out what makes a cancer cell cancerous. Specifically, we focus on mitosis, which is the highly regulated process by which cells divide into two cells. For my project, I look at how defects in the regulation of the cell cycle can lead to cancer and resistance to chemotherapy.
My PhD journey has been a challenging one so far (as they all are in their own way). I changed projects and labs 4 months into my first project because my PhD advisor wasn’t providing me with effective guidance. I changed to an advisor who I knew I worked well with, but 3 months after my confirmation milestone she suddenly resigned. So, currently, I’m trying to learn how to work effectively with my new advisor and trying to find my independence as a researcher.
As a science communicator you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and I also have a vlog on YouTube. I try to share the ups and downs of academic life and I’m always interested in meeting new people. Feel free to check me out at @SlinkyScience !
In regards to my day-to-day life, I usually work 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. I avoid working outside those hours as much as possible, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You’ll usually find me in the lab doing various different kinds of experiments and planning.
Please enjoy my day; Wednesday, 11th December, 2019.
Sometimes I wake up early in the morning and have trouble getting back to sleep, usually because I have so much on my mind. On these mornings, I will get up and start my day with gentle yoga, mindfulness and meditation for 40 minutes or so. After this, I will get ready and begin my 1 hour commute to work. The background image on my phone is my two dogs when they were puppies (there is another photo of them further down!)
I start my day at work by checking my list of things to do which I prepare at the beginning of the week and update as the week goes on. The first thing I usually do in the lab is check the cells I have growing in culture so I can make sure they are healthy and happy. This is important because they are the basis of most of my experiments.
The morning before this day I had started a 72 hour live cell imaging experiment. All my live cell imaging experiments prior to this had failed after about 5 hours due to microscope errors, however, on this particular morning I was happy to see that the microscope was still imaging my cells after about 20 hours (you can see that it says it has ~52 hours of imaging to go). On the screen you can see a bright field image of my cells.
After having a quick coffee and snack at around 10:00am, it was back to the lab to wash some Western blot membranes. To cut a very, very long story short, I had previously extracted protein samples from some cells, and these membranes allow me to see specific proteins by fluorescence imaging – but first they require washing so I can get a clear image.
After washing my membranes, it’s time to image them! This machine is called a ChemiDoc, and it allows me to see and image the fluorescent bands of whatever protein/s I’m trying to visualise (providing my experiment has worked as planned!)
After imaging my membranes and having lunch, it’s time to do some cell culture. Pictured is a sterile vertical laminar flow hood that allows me to work with my cells without them being contaminated by the outside environment. All of the equipment you see here was sterilised with ethanol and wiped down before being placed in the hood.
After finishing up with my cells, I had some time to sit down at my desk and update my lab book and look at the results of some of my recent experiments. I like to do this regularly because it makes me stop and think about why I’m doing particular experiments, how I can improve my experiments, and what my results mean. By taking the time to think about my results, it helps me to keep perspective, generate new questions, and really think about what I need to do next.
After another busy day in the lab, it’s finally time to head home. I’m lucky to work in such a beautiful institute with a lot of natural light, trees, and gardens.
Arriving home from work is definitely my favourite part of the day. It gives me a chance to unwind, destress, and give my brain a rest, which I believe is of the utmost importance so that my brain has a chance to form new connections and generate new ideas. At 8:00pm-ish it’s dinner time for my puppies, Lucy (left) and Sian (right). They are 6 year old Chihuahuas and they are the light of my life.
My new planner arrived in December, so I spend my December evenings planning the year ahead. I’m not sure what 2020 will bring, but I hope it will be a good year. At the very least, I’m looking forward to spending it with some of the beautiful PhD friends I have been privileged enough to welcome into my life.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my day! If you’d like to, please feel free to check me out on social media – @SlinkyScience
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