Fecundity, Part 2

We can now congratulate Tina Bell on being the second lab member in as many months (it felt like weeks) to successfully defend her Ph.D. She will be doing a postdoc with my (better looking) doppelganger Erik Sotka at College of Charleston, great work Tina!

It has been a hectic past 2 months, obviously, made more hectic by a lab contamination problem that really stymied me. A series of bands, looking almost like a ladder, up to about 300bp that affected all of our mitochondrial COI reactions. We replaced reagents, we tried filter tips, we tried changing reaction conditions, all sorts of things. In the end, it looks like sloppy pipetting put something in our pipettors that is able to aerosolize into reactions. What that “something” is that isn’t exactly COI but responds to those primers, I don’t know. In the meantime, I’ve shut the lab down for a well-needed cleaning and overhaul, including using DNAZap on all items used in PCR, getting rid of lots of junk (apologies to the cleaning staff for all of the very full trash cans, and no most of it could not be recycled - what could be passed along to other labs was, however), and so on. We’ll be a little leaner and meaner now; with fewer students perhaps I’ll sleep a little better at night, too.

Speaking of the conservation side of the lab (the recycling, not the getting rid of students), I’d previously detailed (on my pirate-hacked wiki that I had to shut down) the work we’ve done in the lab to cut down on energy use, and as of late May 2009 our efforts had cut our kWh usage by plug-in gizmos by well over 10%. With the recent overhaul of the lab (and reduced population size), I’ve decommissioned another older G4 (though that was thanks to getting a new Mac Pro, so no net savings) and we’re replacing a 9-year-old Dell Workstation with the Mac Mini for gel doc and Nanodrop runs. That should cut the power consumption in half for that computer station, though I doubt it will dramatically improve my Hirsch-Index-per-kWh numbers!