During my internship with the Lundy lab, there was a week my mentor was in Washington D.C. for an Immunology conference. Even though she left me with a list of things she wanted me to do while she was gone, this week was definitely a challenge, because it was the first time I was truly on my own. No longer did I have someone to answer my questions when I conduct experiments. If a question came up, I could always ask my mentor who was just a few feet away. However, with her being gone, questions now have to be answered through previous notes on experiments or they simply go unanswered.
Before my mentor left for her conference, she had assigned me to conduct several enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to measure the amount of Fas Ligand and granzyme B in specific samples. The protocol for this assay is really long, usually requiring around 8 hours. However, the steps are quite simple. All you have to do is mix the necessary reagents and add it to plate at certain time intervals after washing the plate. I have done several enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in the past on my own; however, when the machine read the plates this time, the numbers looked strange. After glancing over the protocol again, I realized that I had diluted one of the reagents in the wrong solution in the very first step!
Thankfully, my mentor was understanding. In fact, she even mentioned that she had made the same mistake once too. However, I now have to repeat all the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays again. This was an extremely frustrating moment, because this mistake made me lose several days’ worth of work. Therefore, I learned from this experience that no matter how familiar you are with something, mistakes can happen and that you can never be too cautious.