One method that can be used to check if one has created the desired plasmid is by running an electrophoresis gel of a PCR sample. PCR magnifies a section of DNA, and when run through an electrophoresis gel, one can interpret the band weights to determine if the sample has the desired count of base pairs. In the case of the plasmid that my mentor and I are trying to create, we have not yet seen the desired band weight of about 11,000 base pairs, but instead, we have only seen the base pair band weights that correspond with either the pT2 plasmid backbone or the CRISPR-Cas9 expression cassette. This signifies we have failed to ligate the two segments together to create a single plasmid.
In terms of the lab culture, though I am not travelling abroad, I do get to taste foreign chocolate from Argentina. Though the chocolate is not as rich as European or as milky as chocolate of the United States, Argentinian chocolate has a more natural and subtle taste to it that many of times includes a hint of flavoring from coffee beans. That said, I have always enjoyed experiencing new food because it is one of the best ways to learn about a culture. Another great way to learn about another culture is by talking with a foreign individual. In the case of my mentor, sometimes we talk in Spanish, when it is convenient and helps to clear up confusion, and other times we discuss differences between our two home countries in either English or Spanish. This makes for a great relationship between my mentor and I as we learn more about the interests of each other. Additionally, my mentor is always willing to provide assistance with teaching and understanding new concepts, which allows me to learn more about the experiments I conduct by helping me to interpret their results. So far, this experience has improved my understanding of what a career in research entails and the amount of cooperation between coworkers and other labs that is necessary to achieve an academic breakthrough.