That’s All from Me…

Ashra Kolhatkar
Ashra Kolhatkar
Indian student Ashra Kolhatkar describes her journey from India to Canada to pursue a Biology degree at Mount Allison.

All around me are the sounds of cutting-edge scientific research in action: the slow grind of a shaking water-bath keeping vials of blood from clotting, the whir of a pump mixing gases, the hum of machines to heat or cool oxygen electrodes.

All around me are the tools of scientists: gloves, pipettes, tubes of various shapes and sizes, beakers, flasks, needles and syringes, liquid nitrogen.

Life in the lab is driven by the beeps of two alarm clocks warning when the time to take the next sample is drawing near.

And, surrounded by all this equipment, wires, giant tanks of gases, and tangles of tubes, work has slipped into a rhythm.

The end of my fourth week at the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab (MDIBL) is almost here and we’ve accomplished so much, and there’s still so much to be done.

Two years ago when I learned about haemoglobin-oxygen affinity curves and heat shock proteins in my Animal Physiology class, I never thought that one day in the not-so-distant future I’d be spending hours and hours constructing them myself.

I don’t suppose it’s particularly useful to go into the details of my research, but let it suffice to say that it’s involved, new, exciting, and has come to entirely occupy all my waking (and many of my sleeping) hours.

The other student I’m working with is one of my closest friends.

He and I have lived in the same residence for two years and have been roommates with three other people for the past year and will be next year, too. It’s both a blessing and a curse working with someone you know so well. We argue often but usually constructively and hardly ever for more than a few minutes. But we also spend a lot of time laughing and getting as much enjoyment as we can out of our work.

We have a very busy schedule that keeps us in the lab all day.

Eight hour days are the norm, twelve hour days aren’t even remotely surprising, and sixteen hour days are occasional. However, the lab is a twenty-minute bus ride from Bar Harbour which, despite how touristy it is, is quite a lovely town that provides much-needed respite from the campus and our lab work when we get the chance to go.

We have two weeks before we’re done and there are still many more experiments to do.

Our trip has been extremely productive though. We’re getting very good data, our relationship with our professor is getting stronger every day, we’re starting to take real ownership of our projects, and we’ve learned so much. It’s really been a phenomenal experience.

In two weeks time, I’ll be heading down to New York to visit my high school best friend who I haven’t seen since graduation.

It’s going to be fantastic to see her and to be in New York, and I know the change from all this lab work is going to be much needed. I plan to spend five days there before I fly back to Sackville for the rest of the summer.

In the fall I will start my final year of university, which is guaranteed to be both intense and exciting, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

That’s all from me. Thanks for reading, folks!