When asked about my favorite class this year, my answer has been, without fail, the Phage Day 1 Lab. While not everyone shares my enthusiasm for mixing viruses with bacteria and growing them on Petri dishes (it does sound a little odd, if you think about it), I can honestly say that joining the Phage Day 1 program was one of the best decisions I made coming into college. This lab provides a unique opportunity for hands-on, exploratory learning in a schedule otherwise filled with introductory, largely memorization-based classes. Don’t get me wrong – I love learning about biology in any setting, including lecture. However, there is something special about knowing that the work I do in lab is not a mere learning exercise, but directly contributes to a growing body of cutting-edge scientific research. It’s a small contribution, but I take some pride in knowing that the phage I isolated, studied, and yes, came to love over the first semester is stored in a database with my name beside it.
The aspect I enjoy most about Phage lab is the hands-on approach to learning laboratory procedures. We read about techniques, talk them through with our professor, and then do them. It was great to see my classmates’ and my growth over the first semester as we developed from unsure, somewhat clumsy amateurs asking questions every five seconds to confident budding scientists who know how to design our own experiments and think critically about solving potential issues. As a Biology major hoping to enter the field of medical research, this course has given me both practical experience and confidence in carrying out laboratory procedures. It also provides a strong base from which to apply for future research experiences at Hope and beyond.
The final thing that makes me love Phage lab is the fact that it is just so much fun. I have become friends with many of the people in my class, where the small size and common purpose create a sense of unique comradery. This is the class where I can share nerdy jokes and know they will be appreciated, where I can ask a peer a complicated question about biology and know they will understand it, and where I and my friends can sing along to Disney songs while performing an experiment (one of my fondest memories from lab). The Phage Day 1 program allows me to further my knowledge of biology in a unique and sincerely enjoyable way. It has become one of the defining aspects of why I love Hope.
Author: Alicia Bostwick