Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:21
In a fugue at the Laboratory
Text and photos: Maarit Itkonen
The classrooms and halls of Oulu University of Applied Science serve as a scene to numerous interesting courses. The workspaces of the Degree Programme in Laboratory Sciences in the School of Engineering are at Kotkantie, where white coated students work in deep concentration.
I went to check out what students specializing in biotechnology, Anni Lahti and Jenni Lehtonen are up to as they busy themselves over exciting machines, pipettes and test tubes.
– In the Biochemistry 2 course we learn to separate and clean enzymes with different methods. In this case we are practicing with an already isolated Alkaline Phosphatase enzyme. It is an easy enzyme to practice with, says Anni.
- We take fractions or samples from it. From five different fractions we make two different dilutions of a total of ten samples, which will then be reprocessed, Jenni continues.
Factions and Enzymes, - huh? This is personally going a bit over my head, but the laboratory services students continue seeking enzymes without any sweat. There are dozens of test tubes in the rack that Anni and Jenni are studying.
- We are checking if sediment has formed at the bottom of the test tube. These have already formed and so we can place them in the centrifuge, said Anni.
Fugue, what on earth is a fugue? It sounds like a musical instrument.
- The centrifuge separates with a high spin rate the sediment from the liquid to the bottom of the test tube. When this is done, the liquid is poured out of the test tube and the sediment is collected. The sediment contains the enzymes, which is why they are separated from the sample, Jenni explains.
The centrifuge is surprisingly small, but efficient. The ‘fuge is left on the table to run through the "spin cycle" with the samples for a few minutes. In the meantime I had time to ask Anni and Jenni how they liked studying at Oulu University of Applied Sciences. They are in their third year and graduation is just around the corner.
- The studies as a whole have been really practical here. Nearly every course involves laboratory work, so they are not completely theory, Jenni summarizes.
- In our studies the first two years are used to go through all the different aspects of laboratory work, which gives us the foundations for working in many different types of laboratories. When we were on traineeship in Stockholm, working at a local laboratory there, I noticed that the bio side was the most interesting, which is why I specialized in it here, explains Anni.
The beep means that the ‘fuge has finished its cycle on the samples. The additional liquid in the test tubes is poured out and they are placed again on the rack. What on earth - Anni and Jenni take their pipettes and squeeze a new solution on to the sediment. Didn’t they just want to get rid of the liquid?
- The sediment is diluted in a 0.1 molar natriumhydroxide solution. The sediment containing numerous enzymes has to be turned into solution form so that it is easier to study and examine. Finally, into these test tubes a reagent is added causing reactions. In this case the reactions can be seen as colors, which are then measured and placed on a standard line slope, clarified Anni.
Umm... What on earth is a standard line slope?
– We know certain consistencies that are considered standards. If our samples fall into the same consistencies as the standards, we know how much enzyme we have in each sample, clarified Jenni.
I leave the two to their work in the laboratory wondering about all the new information and terms. Before I disappear though, Anni sends a greeting to future applicants.
– It’s definitely worth applying here if you are interested in biology and chemistry. It is a great feeling when after a few days you learn the results that you have succeeded.
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