I chose the DIY Diagnostics FRI stream because I liked the freedom the lab offered. There are many different projects going on at all times. Some projects would be more computer-based, while others’ main focus would be wet work. This diversity allowed my to do different kinds of lab work to find what I enjoyed the most. I really enjoyed working on making apps by coding, and I really enjoyed wet work with DNA and chemicals. DIY allows me to work on both.
One of my favorite projects was working with Waller Creek. The creek runs through UT and downtown Austin. The lab wanted to test the waters and try to find where the creek was getting polluted. I loved how relevant this research was. I felt that this research could do a lot of good for the community. My lab mates and I had to wake up before sunrise to take samples, but getting the best results we could made the early mornings worth it. As I did not work on the Waller Creek project over the summer, I am eager to find out how far the project progressed.
Over summer, I worked on a new experiment: the creation of microscope lenses from epoxy. My lab partner and I replicated an experiment that aimed to make cheaper microscope lenses. The project fit the DIY’s purpose since the lenses can be made with easily accessible materials. We bought the epoxy from Amazon and used a toaster oven to cook the lenses. My lab partner and I were allowed to decide where we wanted to take this project. The independence we had helped me learn many important lab and life skills. While I was working with this lab, I began to realize how much I enjoyed doing research. I had not considered lab work as a possible career option before I started the DIY stream. Getting involved with lab and research opened my eyes. I had worked in a lab before, but I had never done real research before.
Overall, DIY is a diverse stream that truly has something for anyone. We do wet work, computer work, and we even have a 3D printer! DIY was my favorite class last semester, and I can’t wait to start doing lab work again this semester.
This is a photo of the lenses I worked on over summer. We were cooking the epoxy in an old toaster oven so the silicon-based.