Worms, Nematodes, and Everything in Between.

“Ok only four more” I replied to my lab partner. “Great these worms are really coming along”. This exchange between my laboratory partner and me  was one of several that we’ve had over the last few weeks. We were examining C. elegans, which is pretty much the scientific name for a type of worm. Each lab period we would examine these 1mm nematodes under a high power microscope to observe whether blocking the expression of certain genes would affect their biological clocks. While this post is starting to sound  more like a lab report than a blog post, this exchange reflects the heart of sciences at Middlebury: collaborative, first-hand experiences that are rooted in research and laboratory exercises. Watching worms wriggle in a small plate might not overtly scream excitement (and after three weeks of it, excitement was the last word to use), but more than anything it gave me a personal and intricate look into genetic processes that I had only read in textbooks. Working with a partner also allowed us to gain confidence in each other and foster a friendship from staring at worms in a microscope for hours. For me, experiences like this reaffirmed my love for the sciences. Animal Physiology has been more than a class in which we simply read out of a textbook, but instead taking an in-depth and first-hand look at the actual things we study. This theme resonates in all Middlebury classes and shows the deep commitment of the faculty to developing the education of the student. Sitting in lab that day and counting how many times a worm defecated was certainly monotonous, but doing it with my lab partner while my professor’s electro/alternative music played in the background made it all the more rewarding.

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