Monday, September 22, 2008

Playing God

Surprised by how many of you ask about what I'm doing at Northwestern, I figured I could answer in a blog.

I am trying to answer how and why fruit flies sleep. I turn off genes in flies brains one by one and then measure how it affects how that affects sleep.

For the most part my research is pretty mundane; I have to transfer the flies pretty regularly so that they don't die, I have to plan way ahead so that the right amount of flies are being born in the weeks that I need them (it takes 10 days for an egg to hatch into a fly), and I have to load the flies into lots of little vials so the computer can count count when they are asleep.

Eventually the research will get pretty interesting. Once I find genes that make a big difference, I'll run more genetic tests and even dissect the fly's brains to check it's chemistry.

In case any of you find a fruit fly and want to know it's gender, I'm including a chart for easy reference.

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