When I speak to family and friends from home, I get the standard retinue of questions. “What are you majoring in?” “When do you have to apply to medical school?” “Are you eating enough?” “When can I expect grandchildren?” (Maybe the last question is more common amongst Jewish mothers.) Sometimes however, I’ll be asked about my favorite class this semester. My answer always seems to surprise people. I’m lucky because I genuinely am interested in all my classes this semester, but there’s something really special for me about Bio Lab
It’s weird to think that when I’m learning about topics ranging from Cartesian dualism to the fundamental processes behind how vision, a class with no lecture component is my favorite. When I registered for Bio lab, I wasn’t too excited. I figured it’d be a boring lab course dealing with biological minutiae that held no real interest to me, this all on top of the class being 3 hours long. As you’d expect, much of the course does focus on basic scientific techniques. Completing polymerase chain reactions, doing some gel electrophoresis, a good amount of the class is composed of lab procedures.
However, what I really like about the class are the aspects less commonly associated with laboratory work. To start with, I have an amazing group of lab partners. Shante, Bob, and Tim are all students enrolled in the post-bac program here at Hopkins, and with their age and wisdom comes a lot of fun. I think it’s safe to say that the amount of Beyoncé that can be heard from the lab station I share with Shante rivals that of the top cellular/molecular bio labs in the world. Bob is always ready to make the long lines for the spectrophotometers more entertaining with biology themed raps, and no one is better at lighting a Bunsen burner than Tim.
Aside from the group of friends I’ve made, the trips I’ve been forced to take outside of the UTL for the course have been incredible. As part of our semester long project on culturing, sequencing, and identifying bacterial DNA, we visited various biomes on Homewood. It wasn’t until Bio Lab that I knew the President’s Garden existed (let alone where it was). I’ve learned to differentiate between the Beech Trees and the Red Oaks on campus. If pressed, I could even describe to you in detail the history of the squirrel population here at Hopkins. We were also required to take a trip to the Maryland Zoo which gave me a nice opportunity to explore Baltimore outside of the Hopkins bubble with my friends.
There’s no better way to spend a Sunday than by taking pictures of snakes and chimps. Except for sleeping maybe… But the zoo is a close second! We explored the gift shop, became friends with the taxi driver, and even learned about otters holding hands while they sleep. Going to the zoo, something I wouldn’t have done of my own volition was an experience that turned out to be one of my best days I’ve had here at Hopkins. Without Bio lab, I’d have three less friends, no zoo experiences, and I’d have significantly less Beyoncé in my day… I think now it’s pretty clear why it’s my favorite class. Sorry Descartes.