Friday, May 3, 2013

Estrella Mountain Conference, STEM map and a yummy dessert

Alright everyone, I have a lot to say today, I might actually go over the word limit we have. Thinking back about writing weekly blogs, I grew to appreciate it more and more because now I have something to look back to and read over and say "oh, I remember that!" and "woah, look at all that bacteria!" I believe that writing, in general, is therapeutic and healthy. Any who, this blog post will cover the conference from earlier today, some STEM related project and yummy fruit tarts :)

To begin, as you may already know, today was the day of the Estrella Mountain Student Research Conference! The campus is so beautiful and it was a breezy day for the most part which was really enjoyable. The keynote speaker was so inspiring. She is a current lead researcher in the Alzheimers Insititute here in Phoenix. She is originally from Phoenix and decided to later come back as the kind of research (aging neuroscience) was available here in Phoenix. Hearing other people's stories and how they overcame the many obstacles in their academic and personal lives to get to where they are today makes me realize that I can do that too! Afterwards, there were many oral presentations and lunch followed. The others interns, Dijana and I went to In N Out instead :D yummy! The poster presentations were a success! I had a really good time interacting with other students and faculty members as well as the judges!

Congrats to Saterah for placing on the top 3! She was kind of nervous and I told her that she's been working on this project all semester so it would be really good if she just explained her poster to the judges as if she was explaining to a friend but to use more scientific terminology etc. She did a super fabulous job and I am so proud of her overcoming her initial fear and going out there and putting Phoenix College on the map! Congrats to everyone for participating and getting accepted (about half of those who applied got accepted so that's something to be very proud of!) Congrats to everyone for making it through this semester as I know for many of us, this is our final semester at Phoenix College!

Here I am with my poster :)

I was obviously excited haha. I had a really good time!

For Picture of the Week, I have three photos I wanted to share with you all! The first one being the bottom one of the yummy fruit tart I enjoyed on Wednesday thanks to the Math department for taking all the tutors out for Tutor Appreciation day! I want them to know that I appreciate them for the tremendous support and my fellow tutors in the Math Zone! It has been wonderful working with such an amazing and dynamic group of individuals. Thank you all! 
The second photo I've been wanting to share with you all this week is the following: 

This poster has been a semester long project with the STEM scholars. It was someones fantastic idea (not sure who it was) but when I first heard about it, I was really excited to see it come together. I think it does a really good job at showing the diversity that we have at STEM and at the same time, we have the same goals: helping others and helping each other. I want to give a special shout-out to all the STEM Scholars this year and for being so supportive of one another. I appreciate each and every one of you. I think our team this year was really special as each and every single one of us has something special to offer and it's been a pleasure working with you all. I appreciate you all! Shout-out to Mrs. Ana Lampis, our Math and Science Specialist for putting all our STEM events together and for her endless support and interesting conversations  Thank you all!

Last but not least, another sunset. :)

Hope you all have a productive weekend, I know we will all be super busy with finals preparations! Remember to get some sleep and to treat yourself to something special every time! I look forward to seeing you all at graduation next week! 

Much Love, Khadidja M

Friday, April 26, 2013

Poster Week! :)

Poster, poster, poster. I must have heard this word at least a thousand times this week. That's what I've been working on all week!

The following is a picture of my poster thus far. The abstract was already completed and submitted earlier on so I just had to post it on the poster. I formulated my hypothesis pretty quickly, referring to previous research completed on hand-washing techniques. Something that I thought was pretty interesting was the fact that the template for this conference included a "why it's important" section. This makes it easier for the audience to get a feel of the main objective of why the experiment was done in the first place. For the experiment portion, we decided to combine the materials and method together as it makes it a more comprehensive and understandable. It started off by being in paragraph format but Matt and I decided to make it numbered. We also separated it into two sections: 1. colony forming units numerical data methods and 2. coliform detection methods.

For my data portion, Matt helped tremendously by competing a data analysis on my numbers to make sure they were all statistically significant, which they were. Further on, he helped make the beautiful chart (refer to the picture below) and I changed up the colors and layout a little bit to make it easy on the eyes. I also added pictures from my blog on the poster as well. Today, I plan to be heading to the lab to finish up the conclusion section as well as adding two more resources in the references section. I remember reading a lot of research essays from various studies so I just have to find them again and reference them in my poster.

This is the picture of the day! I wanted to thank Bill Gates for Microsoft system (we use Excel for data analysis and PowerPoint to put our poster together). I also wanted to thank Notorious B.I.G. for helping me get through the data entry and analysis portion of this project. Thank you all.

Hope you all are having a productive week and an even better weekend. Next week is the final week of classes and the following week after that is finals week. Study hard, finish strong and treat yourself to something nice. Hope you all have exciting plans for the summer! And if you don’t, take it easy!

Greetings, Khadidja M.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Procrastinating Must End

This whole "waiting until Monday to write my blog post" is fast become a (bad) habit so I promised myself that this will be the LAST time. So this post will discuss last week and the post on Thursday will discuss this week.

To begin, in the lab, I continued on with my experiment to identify whether or not the women's door handles presented any traces of coliforms. This was actually a surprise for many of us at the lab given the fact that the men's door handles were usually the "germier" ones and the beginning results for coliform identification came back negative for the men's door handle. Gram staining is set to be done over again this week for the one women's sample that came back positive for coliform, bacilli negative to be exact. I look forward to that and will keep you posted on that on Thursday.

The bottom photo shows my TSB plates which were completed in order to continue the numerical data needed for the upcoming conference at Estrella Mountain Community College in May.

The above picture reminded me of this bottom one here. The reason being is because I was freaking out a little that week in the lab because I thought there must have been something wrong with my swabbing/platting technique. So much so that no colony forming units (CFUs) grew on the TSA plates. I later found out that week that the incubator was off the entire week and I was somewhat relieved. My other theory as to why colony forming units did not grow was either (a) the janitor was cleaning the handles or (b) someone was pranking me early. Neither are true :) 

 This week in the lab, the plan is to work on the poster for the conference in May. The data is driving me a little insane , once again, but I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes after completing something a little challenging. Thanks to Matt, I was able to start on the data analysis portion with graphs and so forth. We had to combine the numerical data from the ASU conference poster and the new numerical data. More to come on Thursday on the poster prep.

Picture of the Week:
Someone special got this book for me and I plan on reading it in the summer time. I'm not much of a memorizer-type of person so I look forward to reading this to overcome my anatomy studying fears. I believe these are available in Barnes & Noble. I'm pretty sure it can be found elsewhere also. I know a lot of us are planning on getting the medical field or research field so I thought sharing this would benefit us all :)

Good luck on the remainder of the semester and until Thursday. 

Greetings, Khadidja

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Long week :)

Last week was incredibly difficult for me so I was unable to post a blog post on time but here is what happened:

For my coliform identification, I had to use the positive sample (there was only one from the women's door handle!) and make ETB plates to test for negative bacilli bacteria. For making the agar, I used the below sample to make the plates. The results came back positive so now Josh and I started gram staining to confirm this finding. Later on this week, I will update my blog to tell you whether or not the gram staining testing also came back stating that the bacteria is in fact gram negative, bacilli.


For the same experiment, I'm continuing to take samples every Tuesday and Thursday to calculate for the colony forming units or CFUs and the results thus far have been unpredictable. Generally speaking, the inside of the men's door handles tend to typically have less than the outside door handles which is expected given the fact that we had similar data showing that for the previous conference at Arizona State University.

This week in the lab will be more gram staining (not my favorite but I'm improving my technique every day) and more coliform identification. I will also begin working on my poster for the upcoming conference which I believe the poster is due on Monday. I plan on using some of the same materials and methods from my previous conference as this is just a continuation from the previous conference. I will definitely keep you all updated on my results later on this week :)

For Photo of The Day this time, I couldn't pick just one so here are two pictures this week!
This first one is of the lake by my house and I went for a walk on Sunday with my mom and snapped this picture. I love the sun! (you probably see that as a reoccurring theme every week) :)

Over the weekend, I attended a humans rights film festival at Arizona State University with my brother and saw this sticker on someones car on our way there. I thought it was applicable to the theme of the films that were shown. Extremely interesting event and I was able to converse with students and professors after the event.

Hope you all have a successful and productive week. Till next time,

Khadidja M.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers

First week of April is finally here and I have a feeling this month is not only going to be extremely busy for all of us but enjoyable as well due to the really nice weather outside.

In the lab, I am more in the process of testing for coliforms! The women's inside and posterior door knobs and the men's inside posterior came back acid positive and gas positive in the SS Lactose broth test which means they can in fact be coliforms present on those door knobs! The women's inside anterior door knob had to be re-tested because it came back negative for acid (no color change) but postive for gas presence and the next day, it came back positive for both. The next step in the process was to test the positive samples in Brilliant Green Lactose Broth or EC broth (the broth I prepared the previous week). Josh and I decided to test in both broths. The results found that all samples came back acid negative (no color change) but the ones tested in the Green Lactose Broth came back gas positive whereas the same samples tested in the EC broth came back gas negative!

Lactose samples that I incubated to test for coliforms
Redid this one because the color change wasn't accurate

These are the positive test tubes that were later tested in LLB and EC
made extra broths just in case, I wanted to re-test the samples, The last one is the redo I did  for the inaccurate color on the lactose tube

Brilliant Green Lactose Broth samples came back negative for acid but positive for gas presence (notice the bubble in the top portion )

EC samples came back negative for both the
acid and for the gas (no bubble presence)

More TSB plates samples. TNTC
In the "Teach me about STEM" this week, we hosted an event on Mathematics. During the event, we had a table with fractals which are "self-similar" patterns which basically means that the pattern would be extremely similar looking at it from a macro scale as well as a micro scale. The following is an example of a fractal. You can Google search "fractals" to see some more amazing examples of these patterns in nature. 
Tomorrow in the lab, I'm supposed to be making another type of broth for the next process in the coliform testing procedure! I'm also supposed to be counting the colonies from today.

Today at the STEM office, I had a wonderful young lady come and talk to me about classes she wishes to take in the upcoming semesters here at Phoenix College. Her name is Sarah and she also wants to be a pharmacist! I gave her tips about taking a class in the summertime and about taking advantage of the resources available around campus, like REACH and the Math tutoring center. She plans to transfer to the University of Arizona next year and I'm excited to keep in contact with her to hear about her adventures and her classes. I love being a STEM mentor because I can share everything I know with other students and it's feels good to make a difference in someones life, even though the effects of if might not be present immediately, I think overtime it will.

Hope you all are having a wonderful week and an even better weekend. Enjoy the beautiful weather before the 120's in Phoenix come creepin'. 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Making Medium & Extracting DNA from Strawberries.

Another week has passed us by.

This week in the lab was really interesting. Josh, Matt and I discussed changing up the method of identifying bacteria.We are now testing for coliforms! Coliform bacteria are typically used to test for food and water sanitary quality. Fecal coliforms, E.Coli and K. Pneumoniae, are good indicators of fecal pollution and can be differentiated from other types of coliforms by incubating in certain media at around 45 degrees C.

For one to test for coliforms, there are three steps to take, the first being the presumptive step where a lactose broth medium (I used Lactose Lauryl Tryptose broth) which will allow for potentially stressed coliforms to be recovered and grow. The positive tubes from the Lactose broth will then be inoculated into a more selective medium EC Broth (which I prepared yesterday) and will be using it next week for the next process of identification. I feel that this method of testing is really cool and can't wait to go back to the lab tomorrow to see what the results turn out to be. I am still sampling the doorknobs every Tuesday and Thursday and counting the CFU's (colony forming units) but my main focus for the second half of this semester in the lab is to identify bacterial types.

In other STEM news, as many of you know, I am also a STEM Scholar and this week we hosted our first ever "Teach Me about STEM" event on the courtyard outside of the cafeteria. Myself and other STEM Scholars taught students about strawberry DNA extraction and they really seemed to find it interesting and took the DNA home with them in a little closed test tube. I really enjoyed putting this event together and participating in it as I enjoy interactive activities. Here are a few pictures from that day :)

 These are pictures of the EC Medium I made. I haven't made medium or agar plates since the beginning of the semester so I was really exited about doing it again. I can't wait until next week as I will be using the medium that I made for the next process in identifying bacteria types.

Drum Roll please!!!

Picture of the Week is another one of the sunset! I absolutely love the sun so I was really happy to see the beautiful sunset this week on my way out of calculus class. So beautiful!

I hope you all had a successfully productive week and an even better weekend! Remember to treat yourself to something nice, you deserve it!

Khadidja M.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness: Khadidja Edition

I wasn't expecting the week after spring to be super busy but it really was. In the lab, Josh and I decided to start taking samples from the door handle experiment only on Tuesdays and Thursday as this time around, we are tracking if there is a point where the number of colonies would stabilize and not have drastic increases/decreases. On the other days that I am in the lab, I am gram staining and preparing to learn the techniques I need to use to be able to identify the bacteria. I had a few samples prepared to look at under the microscope today but had a few issues being able to distinguish whether they were gram positive or gram negative so I shall redo those samples on Monday :)

Gram Staining Process. 

Apart from my internship I'm also a STEM Mentor with the STEM Program at Phoenix College and we are having an event on Monday titled "Tell me about STEM." Myself and fellow mentors will be teaching students about biology through a strawberry DNA extraction experiment. I was really exited when I did this short experiment at an ASU Science event a few ago and am exited about being able to share it with other students as well. Apart from the strawberry experiment  myself, Kodjo and Melina are also planning on presenting our posters from the previous conference as well. I have a lot of students asking me about my experiment as they see me taking samples so I'm exited to share my findings with them all!

On Wednesday at Phoenix College, STEM hosted an amazing women's expo! I was able to assist in planning this event and volunteering during my free time as well! There were free food samples and many vendors from campus and beyond talking to students about health balance and eating healthy. There was also a blood drive, free mammograms as well as free STD testing too! I had a really good time meeting students and talking to them about the importance of health and shared personal tips on staying balanced.

I also had two midterms this week, calculus and physics (which I just got done a few hours ago) and a few other things due before Saturday but I'm glad it's Thursday. I look forward to coming back next week, being in the lab and learning how to identify bacteria! I'm also looking forward to hearing back from summer internships :)

Photo of the Week:
Beautiful lake by my house I visited earlier this week. Beautiful
Hope you all are having a productive and happy week. Take care,