February 2nd 2020
The Frozen Ark were kindly invited to spend the day at London’s Natural History Museum to learn the process of biobanking and their methods of storing data online.
The day started with a hands-on session in the laboratory teaching us how to conduct a thorough inventory, we were able to open the freezers to see how samples are stored and databased; we also practised storing samples on dry ice to ensure we were confident in following the protocol given to us on the day. Here, we learnt the importance of having correct PPE in the laboratory when handling new materials.
Next, we were given a tour of their liquid nitrogen facilities. It was interesting to see the equipment needed to enter this room as there is a risk of oxygen levels dropping due to the amount of liquid nitrogen held in the tanks, but it was amazing to see how many samples are kept in one tank.
Moving into the afternoon, we had a presentation covering data management at the NHM, we were shown the data collection template to help produce ‘Specify’, a databased shared with the Frozen Ark, this was great for us PTYs as it enabled us to get an insight as to how large and complex databasing can be! We then walked back to the lab to learn how to barcode samples. Barcoding also makes storing samples more manageable, making it easier to locate a specific sample and allows for detailed notes to be kept on the system, instead of writing on the side of the sample tube.
Finally, we were given a tour of their famous tank room! It was amazing to see how they preserved different species in the glass tanks and even have the chance to see Darwin’s original handwritten notes! I would highly recommend visiting if you have the chance.
Massive thank you to Kirsty Lloyd, Heather Allen, Shannon Morgan, Muriel Rabone, Jackie Jacqueline, Mackenzie Dodds and James MacLaine!