Hi! My name is Kendra Prutton, AKA @toxtalks_! I currently live in Denver, Colorado and I am a Toxicology PhD candidate at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. I am in my third year of my program, so I have completed all my course work and my comprehensive examination. Thus, majority of my days are spent in the lab doing experiments or on the computer analyzing data or writing papers/grants.
My dissertation project focuses on Down syndrome neurodevelopment. Down syndrome is the most common genetic form of intellectual disability; however, the severity of Down syndrome cognitive ability is highly variable and poorly understood. Although extensive research is focused on the effect of environmental toxicants on the developing brain, environmental involvement in Down syndrome cognition is not actively studied. This is a knowledge gap that I hope my research will help to fill.
I am also a nationally-qualified competitive bodybuilder – this has been a very important part of my life for the past eight years. I honestly do not think I would have achieved what I have in my life, had it not been for discovering bodybuilding. This sport requires dedication, discipline, and consistency! My passion for bodybuilding has taught me self-reliance, conviction, and grit and has given me strength, confidence, and an indescribable feeling of joy and happiness.
I am so grateful for my life, and I feel lucky and blessed to get to do what I love every single day, both in and out of the lab! I hope you enjoy following me along on this typical Friday….
7:40 AM: My work schedule is flexible, so I wake up anywhere from 6:30-8:30 AM. This depends on any scheduled meetings I have and the time I went to bed the night before. I take my sleep very seriously, so will not get less than eight hours a night. This is very important to me! Upon waking, I chug a big bottle of water, make a hot cup of tea, journal, and then make breakfast.
8:46 AM: First thing I do when I get into lab is check on my cells, and take out all the reagents, media, samples, etc. that I will need for the day. These are typically stored frozen or refrigerated and require time to thaw before use. While I wait, I generate my to-do list for the day, go on my computer and check my e-mail, and prepare anything else I will need for the rest of the day.
10:03 AM: I had a meeting with my PI (mentor/boss/friend) at the coffee shop across the street from the building I work in. We like to meet about once every week or once every two weeks if things are rolling. This time we had some specific topics to discuss – my summary statement for a grant I recently submitted, and a big grant he is submitting in a few months! This is when I got my coffee for the morning, but I normally either make a cup at home with breakfast or grab one at this coffee shop before lab!
11:47 AM: After my meeting I went back to lab, and everything was thawed and ready to go! I started by feeding all my cells that needed feeding. Those plastic bottles with red liquid in the background – that’s media! That is the cell’s food!
12:36 PM: I collected some of my cells earlier in the week that I treated with a compound to induce oxidative stress. I am interested to see how this treatment affected several genes of interest. In order to do this, there are several steps. The first is to extract RNA from my samples which I completed. Here, I am using a NanoDrop to measure the amount of RNA in my samples.
1:21 PM: Protocols + math…J
1:36 PM: The next step for gene expression analysis is cDNA synthesis. This is a two-step process, and here, I am completing the first step using the concentrations from the NanoDrop and my math from earlier. Science is a lot of moving liquid from one small tube to another using a pipette.
2:34 PM: Here is the next step in the cDNA synthesis. Again, moving liquid from one small tube to another using a pipette.
3:09 PM: Unboxing! Labs require a lot of different supplies, materials, etc. and we often get packages delivered. And like I stated previously, most are stored frozen or refrigerated. So, it is important to be there to receive the package and put it in the appropriate location as soon as possible.
3:17 PM: Before I leave for the day, I always transfer my chicken scratch from my notepad into my lab notebook. This helps me stay organized and remember what I did! This is tedious for some, and I know a lot of people only update their lab notebook once every week…or month…but I like finishing the day with it, and then writing a list of what I anticipate I will do the next day.
4:10 PM: Denver had a massive snowstorm last week, and today…it was 75 and SUNNY! I took advantage of the weather, and went for a stroll through my neighborhoo
6:33 PM: My favorite part of the day. I typically train five days a week at Armbrust Pro Gym, which is an incredible and motivating environment! Today, I trained chest and shoulders.
8:35 PM: After the gym and dinner, I address personal e-mails and work on Instagram content and several other projects I have going on. I prioritize my PhD duties earlier in the day and leave time in the evenings and on weekends for this extra work.
9:23 PM: I have a salty tooth! I rarely crave something sweet, but if I do, it’s at nighttime. Here, I made myself a chocolate and peanut butter milkshake before bed.