50 shades of green: my favorite experiment

50 shades of green.jpg

By Anique ter Braake, PhD candidate, Dept. of Physiology, theme Renal disorders. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iundefinedmagine it is a long working week. A lot of writing needs to be done. A lot of experiments need to be done. And, a lot of arrangements have to be made in order to get everything that needs to be done, done. And just at the moment you realize that it is all a little too much, suddenly there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A small shimmering glimmer of hope, that will make everything okay and make you feel brand new again. Your favorite experiment.

We all have that one, awesome experiment we secretly love. The one that always works. The one that never lets you down. It may be a simple, tiny, easy experiment, but for some reason it makes you happy every time you do it. Do you have that? Well, I do.

It was a rainy, cloudy Tuesday afternoon. In August. You can imagine why I (and probably everyone) was a bit bummed. But despite the disappointing weather conditions I was happily making everything in order not to fall apart during my absence as my summer holidays were just around the corner. One last important experiment. One last mice breeding. Everything that needed to be done was ready for a fresh experimental start upon my return. And I had saved the best for last: my beloved malachite green phosphate assay.

We have not always been the best of friends. For the better part of 2016, the reaction mix betrayed me repeatedly by constantly overestimating all the phosphate concentrations in my samples. Phosphate is very important to me, so I felt horrible that it was taken away from me. It was a rough patch filled with yelling, crying and finger-pointing, but we have made it through and now we are stronger than ever (it could also be that I prepared the buffer incorrectly, but we should never point fingers during an argument).

So there I was, hoping for the best results. Swiftly pipetting everything together with fierce precision. Patiently incubating just the right amount of minutes. Thoroughly swirling at just the right angle. Heroically avoiding air-bubbles. And slowly but steadily, all my samples turned just the perfect shade of green, immediately making all my troubles disappear. My experiment had worked. In just minutes, these simple shades of green told the story of my cells and mice that have been working hard for weeks. Here’s to the simple things, that secretly happen more often during our PhD than we realize. I love these moments almost as much as I love exaggerating.


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