The PourMatic: a great machine for an esoteric need

During my undergraduate education I worked in labs that imaged pond scum using confocal microscopy, studied estrogen receptor ligands in rats whose ovaries I removed, and  used yeast to show how errors in the center of the Central Dogma, RNA processing, can potentially lead to the mutation of its parent gene. Then I worked in a poxvirus lab at the CDC for a year, optimizing an old immunodiffusion technique for use as a hassle-free diagnostic tool for monkeypox in the DRC.  In graduate school I rotated in a cryo-electron tomography lab because why not?  It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea, and I ended up in a lab that used fruit flies to investigate the neural mechanisms and genes in involved in thermo- and chemosensation; I worked with maggots. I dropped out of the lab and the PhD altogether, rolling up my MS and sticking it in my back pocket.

As is clear, I got to do a lot of cool stuff– but nothing was as cool as this machine is:

Yes, yes it is

Is that the sound of me not doing any actual work?

I’m currently back in the bowels of Brandeis, preparing the needs of a 177-student intro to biology lab techniques. It’s a required course if you are pre-med. Suckers. A couple of the labs they are doing require that they make serial dilutions to measure transformation efficiency, and select for cells that have taken up the antibiotic resistance-confering plasmid DNA. That means their bacteria will need a nutrient-rich substrate, both with and without antibiotic, and that’s where I come in. But really, it’s where PourMatic comes in.

It’s like something Picture Picture would show you and Mr. Rogers, am I right? It makes me so excited I said something as dumb as “it’s the tits!” I don’t even know that means but it seems pretty sexist so I’m sorry I said it. But it can pour 320 agar plates in, like, 5-10 minutes!

You saw how it works, and now you can see the kind of freedoms the PourMatic allows for.

If this were an infomercial, we would also have footage of a scientist trying to pour 320 plates by hand– slopping the hot molten agar around, burning herself, lighting her hair on fire with the Bunsen burner necessary to sterilize the pipet for each plate, running out of room on her bench, knocking shit over and then looking at her plates the next day and finding the surface coated in a thick mold.

And then we cut to 7 years later and she hasn’t gotten her PhD yet.

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