Resource | Mollie's Blog No 10
Meet the Scientists
Lessons learnt over these last two weeks – science is not predictable, experiments usually don’t work out first time and that patience and perseverance are the building blocks of a good researcher.
Unfortunately, the big experiment that I was awaiting the results for at the time of writing my last blog turned out not to give the crystal clear result I was hoping for. In my eagerness, I was hoping to see a dramatic effect when I inhibited PP2A that would robustly show whether PP2A mediates the removal of phosphates from ubiquitin. Imagining that just one experiment would give me all the answers perhaps shows my inexperience but has also been a really good lesson.
I actually realised that the experimental set up wasn’t going to be as successful as I originally hoped prior to getting the results (in fact it was the day after I wrote my last blog,) so spent the weekend whirring with ideas of how to improve the experiment. By the Monday (the day I was going to get the results), I already had a plan for my next move… a new, brighter, shinier experiment that ought to give a much more definitive ‘Yes’ PP2A is involved or ‘No’ PP2A is not involved.
As it turned out, the results from my first experiment are still useful. Whilst I had originally felt quite crest fallen that they didn’t tell me the ‘Yes’ I was hoping for, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of PP2A’s involvement in dephosphorylating Ubiquitin. It also became a good test run for my next experiment. Elements of the protocol that had felt a little clumsy I have adapted to be less so, so that overall my new experiment will run more smoothly, reducing the chances of error. Every cloud has a silver lining.
I have had a couple of other hurdles in some Immunoprecipitation experiments that I have been running alongside my main project. Time to adapt and overcome - a skill I have also had to apply to my commute (which normally consists of a short bike ride to work) which has turned into a beautiful early morning stroll (or slide) through the deep snow. Troubleshooting and problem solving is such an important skill to develop in science and I have actually found real satisfaction that my knowledge and skill set has now grown sufficiently for me to be able to identify sources of error and correct them myself. So whilst it is easy to be frustrated when progress is halted by unforeseen issues, it is also important to remember that it is a learning opportunity.
I await with bated breath for the results of the new and improved experiment and hope I can update you with some more convincing conclusions in my next blog but I am hesitant to speak too soon. I hope you have all stayed safe in the snow and have enjoyed some of the fantastic snowmen popping up all over Dundee that have brought many smiles to my face over the last week.