Twambo Hachibamba visits Texas A&M, USA
By Twambo Hachibamba
Posted on 08 May 2012
Twambo working in the lab
Twambo Hachibamba shares experiences at the Texas A&M University. She was there from 5 July 2011 to 6 Feb 2012 for a Research Internship.
Twambo (a PhD student in the Department of Food Science, University of Pretoria) says: “I was greeted by the hot and humid Texas heat upon arrival at the George Bush International Airport, Houston, Texas. It was so hot, almost a 100 degrees Fahrenheit! The hottest and driest summer in over 100 years (so I was to learn later).
"My stay at Texas A&M University was exciting and stressful, but very educational! I learnt to grow cells and then helplessly watched them die, week after week! Oh, the stress!! Eventually after they stopped dying, I was able to learn some exciting molecular biology techniques of reverse transcription PCR, quantitative real time PCR, and many more. The cell culture and the molecular laboratories at the Institute of Obesity Research, TAMU, under Dr Susanne Talcott, are a hive of activity involved in nutrition research using cell and molecular biology techniques. Pharmacometric tools and disease specific biomarkers are applied in studying the efficacy of bioactive compounds in addressing co-morbidities of obesity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
"The rest of my research was done at the Cereal quality laboratory in the Soil and Crop Sciences department, with Dr Joseph Awika. The CQL lab is well equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for cereal and grain quality testing, including HPLC, mass spectrophotometer, plate reader etc. I was able to learn some mass spectrometry under the able direction of Dr Linda Dykes.
"I met fellow students from different parts of the world, some full time students at Texas A&M, and others, like me, visiting research scholars. The cultural diversity was both intriguing and refreshing. The students and staff were all very friendly and helpful. It was not easy to learn molecular biology techniques and the other assays such as ORAC, but with the help and encouragement of the staff and fellow students, it was manageable.”
Compiled by Ms Tabea Mokhele