A day in the life of Marieke de Cock – #OHEJPphdlife #DESIRE

A day in the life of Marieke de Cock

Read our first #OHEJPphdlife post, showcasing a day in the life of Marieke de Cock, a One Health EJP PhD student working on #DESIRE , a PhD project aiming to design and test an effective surveillance system for rat-borne diseases.

“It’s a Wednesday morning in December and I’m off to work. I am one of the lucky ones allowed in RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment these days (due to COVID-19 restrictions) because I have some labwork to do. I start my computer and go grab a cup of tea . Let’s check my emails and today’s to-do list ????: Labwork, 2 meetings and working on my paper in between, let’s do this!

After finishing my tea, I head to the lab ????, together with my Master student. We are currently busy with isolating antibiotic resistant (AMR) bacteria, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and and extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing E. coli to be exact, from urban mice. After culturing bacteria from swabs in liquid media (Monday) and on selective agar plates (Tuesday), we can check the agar plates ???? for bacterial growth, always an exciting day!

mrsa labwerk

We start with inspecting the MRSA plates: “negative, negative, also negative, ah this one has pink colonies, noted, not the colour we were looking for though (they should be blue)”, negative, negative, positive! Nice blue colonies! In total, 2 out of 50 mice have MRSA suspected colonies. It always feels fulfilling to obtain some positive results, given all the work that we put into this!

Let’s continue with the ESBL plates: “negative, negative, negative”. 50 plates later: “hmm everything’s negative, too bad (for me), no ESBL this time”. It’s now 10:15h, let’s fill in all these details in our lab book and transfer the suspected colonies to blood agar plates. From every positive plate, we take 3 or more colonies, depending on their colour and appearance. By the time we put those plates in the incubator (for the next 18 hours) it’s almost 11:15h.

I go back to my computer ???? to start working on my research paper again. “Okay, let’s see, where did we left off last time? Ah yes, somewhere here”, and by the time I am fully into the paper again it’s already time to have lunch. After lunch I go back to working on my paper. 13:00-14:00h Online meeting with my chair group at Wageningen University. The next meeting, about another project I’m working on, starts in half an hour. Just the time needed to send some emails, make some orders for lab supplies and plan a meeting! 14:30-15:30h: Meeting number two. Okay I need to grab a coffee ☕ now.

10 minutes later: Let’s start writing again! One hour later: “Nice this part is finished, let’s call it a day”. I grab my backpack and cycle to the train station while all work-related thoughts in my head disappear. This was a nice and productive day ????, I wish all my days were like this!”

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