Hi, H here, the newest addition to the lab. I’ve got to say, I am overwhelmed by the receptiveness and kindness I have received from the uni research staff (one researcher in particular whose name starts with F) who have welcomed me with open arms and made me feel completely at ease. The fact that I can send an email to someone and find myself trusted to dissect an embryo in their lab just three months later reminds me what a great education system I am in.

Although there are many things I could discuss here, I’m going to focus on the thing that has stuck with me most this week and that is the act of dissection. Taking apart a tiny little life system that is a chicken embryo is an incredibly visceral experience. What makes it so interesting is that on one hand you are dealing with concepts of (what was) life in its most precious and potential form but on the other hand these all manifest in the reality that is tissue that can be torn and destroyed by the smallest of movements.

I remember first seeing the mid brain (a big bubble of tissue on top of the embryo’s ‘head’) and thinking how wonderful it was that it was lined with a large population of baby neurons, but all I really wanted to do was pop it. This was tissue that was going to go on to do great things and all I wanted to do was put my forceps right through it and make it burst like a water balloon (and that’s exactly what we did when we pinned it to the dish with the tiniest little pins I’ve ever seen).

A similar experience was peeling back what would have gone on to become a spinal muscle like it was pva glue that had dried on my hands, or pressing down on the heart and watching blood float out in a small tear in the ventricle.

When all the theory and conceptual stuff intersects with the reality of tissues and organs, you get an interesting juxtaposition that can’t help but re-shape how you view concepts of life and growth.

All I can say is I’m excited to keep learning how to find my way around these embryos!
Bring on next week ☺