Today was a really big day.
I've got a project where I'm working with a non-model organism. For the non-scientists, model organisms like Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewers yeast), Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), and Mus musculus (your common house mice) are model organisms. By which I mean that they are particular species that are commonly studied to understand various biological traits. When you work in a model organism, you have a lot of advantages in that many many people work on the same species that you do, so a lot is know about its biology, there are a lot of techniques established for working with this organism, and a lot of tools and reagents at your disposal.
But as I said, I work in a non-model organism. There are, I would guess, about 3 other labs who give a crap about my organism, and they only care about it for its genome, not for its biology per se.
So I have spent the past year (minus time spent teaching, writing, and on maternity leave) learning about how to handle this organism, how it grows, what it likes, what it doesn't like... taking it out to dinner and really getting to know this beast. And finally, after much work, I figured out exactly how to perform one (very big!) experiment with this sucker.
Today was Day 1 of a very expensive, very time consuming, and hopefully very informative experiment. The Big Experiment. I have never worked so long and so hard to do one (big) experiment. It will be weeks before I get back my data. But today was the most intense, the most frenetic, the most heart-wrenchingly please-don't-let-me-f*&k-this-up part of the whole thing...
And I am pleased to say it went well. I was sweating like a pig, and literally jogging across the lab at times, but I didn't screw up. And by Tuesday I should have at least an inkling of whether or not to keep going.
I am relieved.