My week as a Research Assistant

Research is creating new knowledge

Neil Armstrong

Hello Readers, In my last post, I mentioned that I work as a research assistant and in this post I’m going to be explaining what the role entails.

Research Assistants offer support to professionals who are conducting experiments, or gathering and analysing data in order to create new knowledge and educate people. I work in an institute of medical research, consequently I can refer to myself as a medical research assistant.

The goal of medical research is to improve our health

My work is primarily done in a wet laboratory which is basically a lab where chemicals, drugs or other biological matter are analysed using water. As a research assistant, you do not really carry out your own research, but assist doctoral fellows, doctoral candidates, professors or the team you are assigned to. In my case, I am assigned to the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology unit of the institute so I assist researchers in the unit.

But of course I don’t work alone. I have some research interns that work with me and I guide them on what to do as well as explain some techniques and principles to their understanding.

A run-down of my daily activities in a molecular biology laboratory:

Monday 21 January, 2019 A not-so-busy-day

Buffer Preparation

So because I am in Nigeria (and we believe buying all our reagents is a total waste of money), we prepare a lot of our reagents ourselves.

I prepared some buffers for DNA extraction by alkaline lysis method: Extraction buffer, Neutralization Buffer, Phenol: Chloroform, 70% Ethanol and double diluted TE buffer.

To prepare buffers, you need to have some of your chemistry calculations at your fingertips (especially – C1V1 = C2V2).

If you’re conversant with DNA extraction, you probably understand what these buffers do and if you do not, don’t be sad. There’ll be a blog-post on that soon enough.

Tuesday 22 January, 2019 – GET ME A BED!!!


DNA extraction by boiling is a very easy and swift method. But when you have to extract DNA from 125 samples in a day, now that’s work. If you love what you’re doing and you have some music, you are good to go. 😆

Wednesday 23 January, 2019

Okay, Time to Get Those Buffers to Work

I extracted DNA from the bacterial cells (Helicobacter pylori) using the alkaline lysis method (which is fondly called the crude method by some scientists and I guess this is because of the various chemicals that are added).

This literally took all day.

Thursday 24 January, 2019

On this day, I had to finish extracting bacterial DNA for about twenty remaining samples as well as DNA from some cultured Escherichia coli cells using the boiling method.

A not so busy day and so I had some time to do some literature review on some genes of Helicobacter pylori.

Friday 24 January, 2019

I do not work on Fridays. TGIF.

On Fridays, I do some community services at the local government office as I am currently serving my country.

Some weeks are more exciting than others and I hope this one wasn’t too boring for you to read about. A lot of DNA extraction was done this week and I should write a post on that (DNA extraction) soon. I hope to write more of what I do in the lab and share what we are working on especially when it entails exciting stuff.



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