Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Every Protein has a Silver Lining

The cursor blinked on and off. We sat there on the second floor of the student center staring at an essentially blank screen. "Implications" it stated at the top. Good start, right? Not really, if you turned your eyes a little downwards, our slide read "None, to be honest. It's actually useless. Oops."

I remember a few days before when we were getting ready to see our results, Noreen was showing us how to analyze the curves we got from the Ca2+ titration assay data. She mentioned that one group in the past had gotten a flat curve, indicating they had abolished the ability of their sensor to, well, sense calcium. Jokingly we looked at each other and said that would be us. And, well...it was (funny how that works). 

So there we were staring at our results, thinking about what we could possibly say about our sensor. We could be #1 on the list of the top 10 things not to do in 20.109? 

Quite confused about what we could possibly say, we went to office hours*. Many of them. We were told to craft a story. One of the main things I learned was that all results are meaningful. Even though our results said our sensor was useless, it still meant something. We may have found that the region in which we generated our mutation was so essential that any mutation would destroy the function of the sensor or that the residue we mutated to changed the binding environment too much. Our results opened up a door of possibilities - our seemingly useless protein actually meant something. The most important part of any experiment is thinking about the story at the end and to not be discouraged if your results aren't what you expected. Everything has meaning, you just have to find it. 

When it comes time to prepare the report for Mod 2 - there are two very important things I'll keep in mind - go to office hours and expected or not, the results can always be used to tell a story (and not just warn future experimenters of what not to do).

* I highly suggest taking advantage of office hours! They're the perfect way to get focused on finishing (or starting) your report while having wonderful people there to help you when you get stuck. 

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