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Please pass the...testosterone

posted Nov 19, 2014, 7:04 AM by Kristen Covino   [ updated Nov 19, 2014, 8:31 AM ]
While work is being done to finish entering and then to proof the data from the fall 2014 field seasons (plural because my lab was working at 3 different sites this fall), I have gone full throttle into my lab work. I have been focusing on organizing my samples from last spring and running assays to quantify testosterone levels. Over the summer I was able to get one set of testosterone assays done in addition to completing the genetic sexing for all spring samples. But with over 250 samples to determine testosterone on, I had a lot of work ahead of me. 

Now I bore you with general info about the assays. Each assay can run 32 samples and I run two assays at a time (because...talent. Well, not really, that's pretty standard). So 64 samples at a time thus needing 4 runs total. Each assay takes 4 days to complete and 3 of these must be sequential. Oh, and also, in addition to the 250 samples that I need testosterone on, I also need to run about 60 samples for another hormone, corticosterone. So add on another assay run. Quick math results in the conclusion that this is going to take me several weeks to complete. 

With some hard work and long hours and weekends in the lab I have been able to get 3 of my 5 runs done in the last few weeks. Yay for data!! Now, this last testosterone assay that I run will be (with any luck) my LAST TESTOSTERONE ASSAY. Like for     my entire dissertation. Which is in one way very, very exciting but in another, very,
Extraction of hormonesvery nerve-racking. Throughout most of my field work I have been relatively lucky in getting more samples than I actually need and since these assays run about $300 each, I am not analyzing everything. So my point is (yes, please, get to the point) I have some decisions to make. This is it. No going back. If I don't include a sample on this last set of assays there is no next assay.  

My plan over the next couple weeks is to get everything from my last three sets of assays into my master Excel file (and then back it up). Then I need to re-evaluate the sample sizes that I have for each of the various questions/tests I have going on and decide which are good enough and which need more samples. The 8 Swainson's Thrushes that I sampled this fall will be included so with two samples from each bird (pre- and post-experiment) that's 16 of 64 available slots. With 48 slots left, I have some decisions to make. 

Off to enter data now.