Soooo I'm a virologist graduate student presently quite close to Piling it Higher and Deeper as they say, and I thought I might share a bit of that with you all just to give a glimpse into what we do and how we do it. Soooo, I should first mention that our lab studies the herpes simplex virus 1 (or the Herp if you would), consentrating on a few proteins in the virus whose functions are unknown. The virus is HUGE, 150,000 Base-pair DNA genome, almost 90 proteins, and it is a genius in that it infects the vast majority of humanity and doesn't do much other than be a nuisance to a few of them. Many people don't even know they have it and you get it often at a very early age, even just by kissing you mother. OK, don't cringe, I'm talking about the HSV that gives you "cold sores/fever blisters" on your lips, not the other type. We avoid using that one for obvious reasons. Still, it is a Bio-safety level 2 virus, so we take precautions, some of which you'll see below. When I get out of this school, I expect to either teach or go off on the crazy adventure that is CDC field work.
Excuse the picture quality, they were taken with my phone. I should also mention that this is Hershey Medical Center (PSU), no stalking please .
First, a winter view out of the window next to my desk:
My building at night, a rather common time to be still working. Picture taken from the heli-pad:
A panoramic, you'll have to excuse the irregularities, I wasn't at the focal point of the "crescent."
The door that greets me each day, censored for the privacy of my boss:
Here's a rather cluttered image of my lab bench. This is where I work most of my magic. I see clutter as another word for organized chaos.
The tissue culture hoods are where we do all our cell culture and virus work. BL2. Here's a pic of one being UV sterilized between uses.
The fume hood where we do most of our stinky/radioactive work:
The scary room down the hall that I don't enter:
Not all our signs are as official. I'm not vaccinated for small pox, but I had to get permission to enter anyway, since I need to use that room. If you're not sure if you are or not, look at your arm near the top, if you have a circularish scar there, you're vaccinated, if not, nope.:
We need big centrifuges, this one costs more than I am worth and has a top speed of 90,000 RPM (1500 Turns per second). We have others that are as high as 120,000 (2000 turns a second). The black rotor on top of it costs $15,000. I just love carrying two of these down the hall and thinking, "I'm carrying two cars!"
We need some things to be f*cking COLD:
$300 way to put DNA into cells.
I like to play with dry ice. I have however learned not to inhale the mist in large quantities. Ouch.:
Since we're talking about cold, it doesn't snow here, but ice? Fo Sho.
We party with Dave Matthews EVERY YEAR!
And here it is, the Herp itself. I took this pic on our EM. This is the early phase during the herpes life-cycle where the virus buds into and out of the nuclear membrane on its journey out of the cell. The bottom is the nucleus. The top is the cytoplasm. It was actually quite lucky to catch this event in action. We had been arguing in the lab about whether it really happens this way, and here we are, data to conclude the argument.
So there you have it. Fortunately our particular lab doesn't have to worry about the REALLY expensive machines; the university handles that.