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A Day in the Life: Lab Tech I

Summary:

Marilee joined InVivo Biosystems in 2021 after graduating with a BSc in Environmental Science from OSU, in this article she chronicles a day in her life as a Lab Tech on the Molecular Biology Team.

InVivo Biosystems Staff

Image 1. The InVivo Biosystems team.

08:00-10:00:

Finish up tasks from following day, and organizing myself. Usually this involves

  • running Gels for PCRs/annotations 
  • Lysising C.Elegans for PCRS later in the day
  • Seed plates with bacteria for CE
  • Drinking coffee/pet the office dogs

10:45-11:00:

Standup 

  • Talk about the goals for the day (how many PCR’s or C.Elegans isoluations, etc) 
  • Major group announcements, such as upcoming meetings, issues that need to be addressed 

11:00-01:00

  • I usually run one or two PCR’s a day (each varying in size/time it takes to complete) 
  • Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I due passaging for the C. elegans strains.

Each person has lab tasks that differ, for instance: cleaning up the gel pouring station, making commonly used reagents (such as TE), maintaining/making sure supplies are stocked up, organizing/cleaning the fridge, handling the shipping of finished projects.    

Other tasks: screening worms for co-crisper markers, worm isolations, HRMA, Re some plasmid work

  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays samples are sent in for sequencing, to conform DNA. All samples have to be prepped and ready to go before 2 PM. This makes these days hectic to make sure everything gets out in time.    

01:00-01:30 

  • Lunch 

01:30-02:30 

  • Husbandry brings samples from UofO to be lysised. This has to be done before the end of the day and can’t wait. Usually whoever is not busy is given this task. 

2:30-4:30

  • Making sure everything that needs to be done is done
  • Help others if I have time left 
  • Cleaning up and writing down what I need to due tomorrow 
  • Usually meetings are in the afternoon

I start my day at 08:00am with a cup of coffee/hot chocolate. The mornings usually consist of finishing up tasks from the following day, petting the office dogs, talking to my coworkers  and getting myself organized. A common thing left over is running and annotating gels for PCRs I ran yesterday. I like to have the results before morning stand up so I know if I need to redo them or not. I also have the task of seeding plates with bacteria for our C.elegans work. I will do this first thing in the morning so I know they will be dry and ready to use the following day. 

IVB blue dog

Image 2. Blue, one of the office dogs at the 2021 Holiday Party.

At 10:45 the Molecular biology group meets for standup. This is when we discuss the goals for the day, such as what projects we will be working on, how many PCRs/isolations/etc we plan to do. We also troubleshoote individual projects, for example if someone is having difficulty with a PCR. We talk about what the next steps would be, how to improve and quality assurance. Any major group announcements such as upcoming meetings, issues that need to be addressed (such as equipment failure), and project deadlines/high priority tasks are also discussed. 

After Stand up I will start that day’s task, where each day is different in the type and amount of work there are common things that I do daily. I usually run one or two PCR’s a day, and then analyze the results in the afternoon. Other tasks that are done regularly include: screening worms for co-crisper markers, worm isolations, running HRMA PCRs, plasmid work, and more. 

lab tech bench

Image 3. Lab Tech 1 Lab Bench.

Each person on the team has a different non-project related task to maintain the lab. I passage the in house C.Elegan strains being used for projects/injections. This involves moving some worms from an already populated plate to another clean plate (bacteria seeded), so they don’t starve out. To ensure that injectable worms are ready when needed I passage every Wednesday, Thursdays, and Fridays. Other tasks that one may have include: cleaning up the gel pouring station, making commonly used reagents, maintaining/making sure supplies are stocked up, organizing/cleaning the sample freezers, and handling the shipping of finished projects.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays samples are sent in for sequencing, to conform DNA. All samples have to be prepped and ready to ship at 2 PM. One or two people are assigned to do this task, and depending on the amount of samples being sent out this could take a majority of the day. This can make some days hectic to make sure everything gets out in time.  

An important part of my day is troubleshooting. It is very likely that any one of my tasks won’t go according to plan. This involves looking back at my notes, checking asana/benchling to see if I used the right reagents, talking with my teammates, and asking my supervisor for help. Asking questions and receiving advice is a critical activity in a laboratory job.  

lab tech loading

Image 4. Left: Lab tech loading gel Right: Gel station.

I usually like to take my lunch around 01:00 PM or 01:30 PM. At the office kitchen, there are refrigerators, microwaves, a stove and coffee machine to make a nice lunch. Sometimes someone will bring in a snack to share with the group and leave it in the kitchen as well. There are social distance places to eat sprinkled around the office area and on nice days I like to sit outside with a few of my coworkers on the benches at the back of the building. Occasionally there will be a company lunch, where we all sit outside for a more social break.     

After lunch I continue to work on my daily tasks. Around 01:30 to 02:30  the Husbandry team brings zebra fish samples from U of O to be lysed and prepped. This has to be done before the end of the day and can’t wait. Usually there is a person assigned for this task but on busy days whoever is able to help out takes care of it.  

Near the end of the day I make sure that all my tasks are completed or moved to tomorrow’s schedule, if I have time I help others complete their tasks as well. If I have meetings they are most often near the end of the day and are usually 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Some meeting types include:  whole TGX meetings(Husbandry, and Molecular biology), Marketing, company wide meetings and group training. Finally, right before I leave for the day (around 4pm) I like to clean up my work area and write down what I need to do tomorrow.

About the Author: Marilee Hoyle

Marilee Hoyle

Marilee is a Lab Technician 1 on the Molecular biology team at InVivo Biosystems. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in the Environmental sciences with an emphasis in Marine conservation at Oregon State University. While at OSU she researched the freshwater prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity of the Oregon Willamette River Basin. When not at work she likes to spend time with her cats, playing with makeup/fashion, hiking, or tide pooling on the Oregon coast.

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