Officially, our team operates under the Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering (EECE) Department at Washington University in St. Louis. The majority of our wet lab work is done in the Tang and Zhang Labs, both of which are Biosafety Level 1 (BSL 1). Both labs are equipped with open bench space and biosafety cabinets, and they share 4°C, 30°C, and 37°C rooms for cell cultures and plates. Within the Zhang and Tang labs there are also safety showers, eyewash stations and fire extinguishers throughout. The Zhang lab designates a specific area and enforces safety measures for work involving the use of Ethidium Bromide (such as in gel electrophoresis). In addition to wearing proper lab attire and designated gloves within Ethidium Bromide areas, while working with or around the EtBr we only used designated lab equipment and instrumentation. Any waste connected to EtBr was disposed of in designated EtBr waste containers.
Prior to starting lab work, we took a mandatory online training course and attend a lab-specific safety training session. The online training required the completion of a lengthy slideshow and a safety quiz in order to receive certification from WashU's Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department. Our lab-specific training was given by graduate students in the Zhang and Tang labs. During the lab-specific training, we learned the specific location of safety equipment and other materials as well as the various safety protocols instituted by both labs, including safety equipment training and hazardous waste disposal protocols.
Personal Protective Equipment
Our PPE falls in line with the requirements of BSL 1 laboratories. This means our attire entering the lab includes long pants, appropriate closed-toe shoes, and shirts with sleeves. Once we enter the lab, we also put on fitting nitrile gloves, lab coats, and goggles/glasses when necessary.
DH5α Escherichia Coli cells
MHD42 Escherichia Coli cells
Synechocystis PCC 6803
The development of our project is overseen by Dr. Janie Brennan and Eugene Kim, both of whom we formally meet biweekly. During these meetings, Dr. Brennan makes sure that the direction of our research is environmentally safe. In the wet lab, the Zhang Lab and Tang Lab graduate students, including Eugene, oversee our work and make sure that we are conducting our experiments safely.
Technique and Waste
While working in lab we followed all the safety protocols put forth by the Zhang and Tang labs and the WUSTL EHS department. We properly disposed of all hazardous material in the appropriately labeled containers. Cultures containing bacterial cells were bleached and disposed of accordingly. Sterile technique was utilized when handling cultures of bacteria, or any equipment and media that would eventually come in contact with bacteria.