As I made my way back to California from Washington, D.C., I wondered how the next chapter of my life would unfold. Although I had been a research intern for the past two summers at UC San Diego, I knew it would be very different as a first year graduate student. After listening to all of the research projects at the CAICE meeting, I began counting down the days until I could start working in the lab.
I couldn’t wait to get integrated with the group and the projects. At the CAICE meeting, I heard all about the three Marine Aerosol Reference Tank (MART) experiment and the new wave flume. I knew that being a part of this was going to be special. Once I begin in the lab, I quickly learned that my part of the project would be counting bacteria and viruses in seawater and sea spray aerosols (SSA). I would also be concentrating viruses for the virus addition. With 1031 viruses on earth and the ocean containing half of that population, it’s important to understand how the biology of the ocean affects SSA. In order to concentrate viruses, a 0.22 um filter and 100 kDa Tangential flow filtration (TFF) are used. TFF is a method to separate and purify biomolecules. A 0.22 um filter is used to filter out the bacteria and TFF is used to filter and concentrate viruses. By using this process we are able to get a volume of viruses that will increase the concentration of the MART by two orders of magnitude. The technique we use for counting cells is flow cytometry. Flow cytometry creates a single stream of cells and as they pass by a laser the light scatter is measured and correlated to the size of the cell. This allows us to separate bacteria and viruses by size and obtain the concentration in a sample.
There have been many long days and a lot of hard work but overall a very rewarding experience. I’m happy that I was able to start working this summer and that am getting to participate in the work done in the CAICE labs. This summer has got me excited to begin my PhD program. Oh and on top of all that, I got to participate in the 4th of July fireworks research. If this is any indication of what the next chapter of my life is going to look like, I’m in for a very exciting time!
— Alexia Moore