The death of our morbidostat – Carter P.

Hello all – as I’m sure you know, today is a special day: our morbidostats are being put away. After two weeks of constant failure, we are free of them. Now whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is debated – while frustrating, their problems (ranging from cross-contamination to incorrectly calculating antibiotic concentrations) have been described as “a constant” by many participants here.

I feel obliged to give a bit of history about these mysterious devices – we first got our morbidostats on the second day here, and they are devices designed to continually exert selective pressure onto bacteria by continually taking optical density and adjusting the amount of antibiotic or other bacteria-killing liquids to just the right amount where bacteria are dying just as much as they’re replicating, selecting for bacteria that can survive antibiotics. We are using these devices for the first time – ever. Nobody else has EVER tested them.

After finishing calibration on the 25th, we got them innoculated. The very next day everyone’s morbidostat (save ours and one other) had exploded. The waste tanks had all overfilled, leaving everyone with a plethora of problems. The next day was rather hectic, given that pretty much everyone had to go through most of the entire process of setting up their morbidostats again, and the faculty eventually decided to ditch half the vials in our device. That helped to an extent, but another problem soon revealed itself – contamination. But, after weeks of finangling, we finally sorted out our morbidostats. Our team is lucky – it only had to be re-autoclaved five times: once because it leaked upstairs in the special bacteria room, once because it was contaminated, once because the tube popped off IMMEDIATELY after we spent hours re-autoclaving, once because we thought we needed to re-autoclave (we didn’t) and left the tube lying on the table, and finally once because we need to autoclave to finish putting this device away.

Beyond having to take hours to disassemble and reassemble the autoclaves, we had plenty of other issues. To list a few: vial 1’s spinner spins way too fast, vial 3 has an entirely different stir bar, stirrers 5 and 6 just decided to swap one day, after our tubes leaked our entire device had biohazard all over it, somehow the plastic holders broke in holders 5, 6, and 7, and finally pump 2 tubing has popped off several times. Dr. Mike Manzella (our teacher) commented about these “shared trauma brings people together.” And what better day to be free of the morbidostats than July 4th, the day our country freed itself from Britain. While other people are celebrating the history of America, we here at SSP are celebrating freedom from the morbidostats.

Demoing of depressing topics – here’s a picture of four of us twinning:

Welp I’m Carter and I’m from Johnson city and like traveling, music, and long walks on the beach.