“With great power comes great responsibility.” I’m sure anyone reading this is old enough to have seen the original Spider-Man movie trilogy starring Toby McGuire (Hopefully, they would also agree that Toby is still the best Peter Parker). As I stated in my first blog of the summer, I have been working with this lab for 3 years (entering my 4th year). Having been here for so long has afforded me a significant increase in comforts, such as the desk I had until only recently. These comforts come with a price however. More is expected of me every year, and this year we have just purchased a new Oxygen sensing electrode. This new instrument costs a great deal, and my mentor has put me in charge of assembling it.
On one hand it feels good to have greater responsibility because it offers me another opportunity to develop my professional skills. It’s not everyday that you get to play with high tech legos that cost more than the family car. On the other hand, the cost of making a mistake is pretty high. While, I do have confidence in my abilities it is only human to make mistakes. I don’t expect to encounter any difficulties with the physical assembly of the parts. I suspect that setting up the software will be a decent challenge. I will likely have to run several test experiments with the machine following setup so that I learn how to properly operate the instrument. I’ve been conducting experiments monitoring O2 concentration for about a year now. Up until this point I’ve been using a home-made, and much older, oxygen sensing electrode. The old instrument consists of a simple O2 sensor which prints the electrical signal to a chart recorder (imagine the machine that was used with old seismographs). The new instrument will record the data digitally. Previously, I would have to take the scroll of paper that the O2 data was printed to and, using a ruler, compute the rate of O2 consumption by hand. This new instrument will calculate the rate of O2 consumption automatically. This is significant because it will remove human error from its calculations.
I am honored to be chosen to set up this machine, but not without a fair amount of anxiety.