Upasana Simha

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Upasana Simha 3rd Year student, Srishti school of art design and technology.

An interest in bio and a need to explore an unknown space is the reason I am here. The work we're going to now be doing is so different from what I am normally accustomed to working with, and the fact that I am not from a science background throws me into a space with no limits or bounds to work with.

Ethics.... whats left of it...!!!??

All of us have at some point of time or the other questioned whether what we're doing is right or wrong. At this point of time we either logically analyze the situation or we let our emotions take over and make the decision for us.

While working on this project this topic of ethics and the issues that are involved in the field of science came into light(quite often in fact). I imagine that this topic is quite a sensitive issue and that a lot of people are against(or dont agree with) the work the scientists do. These people often bring up the ethics issue as there justification. But what is this ethics issue that we keep talking about? Nobody complains or brings up the ethics issue when we call pest control to kill all the organisms that reside in our homes(by no means am i saying that a) pests are rubbish, and b) that the animals or organisms that scientists work on are anything like pests the above statement is only for the sake of making a point.) Why is it that we pick on scientists for doing there job? If they could I'm sure they would also rather work on metal or a chair instead of living creatures. Scientists are forced to justify what they do, as they are just merely doing they're job.

This also does not mean that I agree with all of the above (I do have a conscience as well)Man is curious by nature as someone mentioned during the course of our conversation on this topic. Science is a way to explore his curiosity and this does not fully give him the right to use other beings for this purpose (as you can see I'm torn between the two sides).

Now moving to something very different that was brought up -how artists too can justify what they do. Now this is what i actually have a problem with. On the first day someone had said that they are against art made for art's sake, now i dont know whether i fully agree with that comment, but what i do agree with is that there is no necessary need for an artist or a designer to harm another being if there is another way of doing it. As scientists get away with it artists too can justify there work. But justifyying here is not exactly a justification but a way to defend your work. Many artists have a new found interest in the field of bio-arts, I mean thats what we are doing here as well. But for the sake of art is it worth hurting another organism, be it big or microscopic? I'm not certain I myself no the answer to this. But I am learning as each day goes by.

Like i said in the beginning all of us have at some point of time or the other questioned whether what we're doing is right or wrong and when i feel that I am in some way trying to justify or defend what I am doing, that is when I will have to take a step back and figure out the answer.

Transforming bacteria made easy(in several steps):

Things required:


15 micro litre of water

E.coli cells


LB(lurea Burtani)

Centrifuge machine

Process: -take 100 micro litres of the E.cole cells along with 3 micro litres of the plasmid.

-Incubate in ice for 40 mins.

-Heat shock is given for 90 secs at 42C

-It is then put in ice for 2-5 mins.

-You grow in 990 micro litre of LB for 1 hr at 37C.

-centrifuge for 3 mins at 8000 rpm

-we then discard 900 micro litres of the supernatant

-There is a pellet remaining which we then dissolve in the remaining 100 micro litre solution.

-We then prepare Lb agar plates which contain 100 microfram/ml of ampicillin.

-Incubate the plates at 37C overnight.


Its great that we are actually getting down to doing some work in the lab. My understanding and approach to these processes are changing and its finally getting clearer. The association of this proces aoriented work was related to cooking by someone, and to a certain extent the comparison is valid, but the patience that one requires to be able to work in a lab is a skill in itself.

One of the most important things I learnt is how it is essential to always be aware of what you are doing at all points of time. One small mistake at any point in the course of your experiment can cause havoc.(An experiment that should ideally take 2-3 hrs long can sometimes take 2-3 months to complete!!)

Working in this environment has made me realise that this is all happening, that we are currently no longer in a space we have no clue about, because we are finally getting an understanding by actually getting in there..


Transformation, plasmid preps, digestion and ligation ask me the process and I'll be able to tell you whwn to add ALS 1 and how long you need to centrifuge and at what temperature you need to incubate the bacteria. Hearing all of this I felt like I knew all that I need to know to grow my own bacteria. Indeed I was truly proud on our progress and how swiftly we had adapted to this environment that spoke a whole new and different language from what we understood. As I was saying I was so amazed at this technical language That i felt it was a must that i show off my newly aquired skill, one such time that I was yacking away the process this one person just looked at me very simply said "so why again do you do the plasmid prep?" I scoffed at the question and thought it was the silliest question ever. I mean a person who can rattle of the process obviously knows the need for a plasmid prep right? WRONG!!!! i had no clue, this question had me stumped. I realised that I may be able to tell you how to grow your own bacteria, but I can give you no logic behind the process. I felt like the designer(the outsider) all over again. This is when another realization dawned upon me, I am always going to be the designeer, my learning the way I was going about it was superficial. Maybe it was always going to be a superficial learning. The way we can possibly try and get a better understanding is by asking a lot more questions and learning why and how something is happening. Now not only do I know that I shouldn't go around babbling about my bacteria experiments, but also know a little something about how and why we're doing a particular step during the course of an experiment.



This was when we didn't fully understand why and how certain things were being done in the lab. Before we could actually get to the lab and find out, a bunch of us sat together and tried figuring out why we were performing the plasmid prep. This is what we came up with.

In the bacterial transformation we grew colonies of bacteria which possessed thelysis gene and the pbad gene. While we were looking up theses processes we happened to come across this line that said a portion of the DNA cant replicate, it needs to be inserted within a plasmid in order for it to multiply. Therefore we came to the conclusion that th bacteria we grew could not replicate to produce future generations of bacteria containing the lysis gene or the pbad gene. Which is why we move onto the next step-plasmid prep. This step is meant to grow plasmids into which we can insert our gene, such that it can replicate to produce bacteria babies containing the genes we want.