Click. The rumble of boiling water sounds as the electric kettle goes off. I plop a bag of chamomile tea into my favorite blue mug, pour the steamy hot water over it, and indulge in the calming herbaceous aroma. I snuggle up with my tea and Kindle e-reader in a warm blanket on the armchair, which is tucked into the secluded alcove in the living room. My roommates and I have created a reading nook there, complete with a side table, a faux fur rug, and twinkle lights. It’s any bibliophiles’ ideal respite from a long day.
All is well until I’ve gone through my Kindle library and found nothing I want to read.
I looked down at a box-like scientific instrument, called a transilluminator, glowing with ultraviolet light. On the viewing panel was the representative product of my whole semester of study: a single, floppy, square piece of polyacrylamide gel with a few blue-stained bands of proteins on it. An experienced laboratory technician probably runs several of these acrylic gels a week in a process known as SDS-PAGE, but this was the first time I ever did this technique myself. The Fall 2021 semester marked the beginning of my junior year here at the University of Delaware, as well as an exciting part of my course work in molecular biology: upper-level laboratory classes designed for hands-on learning. As insignificant as this gel was in the grand scheme of things, I still remember the accomplishment I felt at that moment and how the career path I had picked out my freshman year finally started to unfold before me.