R.V., Chemicals, science equipment, blue gloves, and a busy lab crew…, for many “Breaking Bad” fans, this scene sounds oddly familiar. Believe or not, this was how Kerney lab as well as Kerney lab’s collaborator spent their 2015 spring break. Unlike the characters of “Breaking Bad”, we were not making drugs, but participating in our “west meats the east” co-culture research experiment.
Launched by Dr. Ryan Kerney and Jasper Leavitt ’15, this co-culture experiment aims to study what will happen if we swap the algae from Northwest salamander (Ambystoma gracile) embryo with the algae from the Northeast salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) embryo during their early embryonic development. Therefore, one of the major purposes of this trip is to collect adequate Northwest salamander embryos for the experiment.
Of course Kerney lab has our own ways of doing trips! We rented a R.V., which not only was our living space at night, but also our lab space during the day. The R.V. also functioned as our mobile vehicle when we needed to travel as well as our kitchen and dining space when we needed to eat – it was as convenient as you want it to be. If you are wondering how much of a lab can be made from a R.V., you would be very surprised. Fluorescent microscope, dissecting microscope, full range of chemicals, pH meter, salinity meter, dissecting tools, centrifuge tubes, and even waste disposal were all equipped in this tiny R.V, crazy… isn’t it?
You might be curious about how this trip itself went. I would say, the trip was absolutely incredible! During the seven-day trip, the crew have traveled across the entirety of Oregon state and Washington state and the furthest place we reached North was Bellingham, WA. Under states permits we collected and fixed salamander embryos from seven sites, including natural parks, local ponds, and the backyard of a few newfound friends.
What was the most unforgettable memory for me from this trip? I would definitely say the amazing scenery and the friendly people we’ve met. Not only did we cold hike through the ancient temperate rain forests, but we also saw snow-capped volcanoes, coasts, and some old train trails in northwest. Thanks to this amazing trip, the Pacific Northwest was, is, and will always be a true wonderland from the bottom of my heart. In a simple phrase, the trip was truly “breaking good”!