To an untrained eye, working in a lab can seem boring, repetitive, and tedious. It is anything but that. A seasoned scientist is really an artist, painting across an untouched canvass of knowledge, surrounded by grotesque sculptures of unique laboratory equipment. Building52 is an attempt to flesh out my daily experience of working as a scientist, as well as to portray the surroundings in which my research takes place. Would my endeavor be successful? Enter Building52 to find out…

Figure 1: Gatekeepers of knowledge.
Keeping a tight lid on this place. Some of the greatest scientific minds in America pass these gates every morning on their way to work. Be it an epidemic-crushing vaccine, or a life-saving drug, these guys got you covered.

Figure 2: Divine scripture.
Chaos breeds creation, lab notebook documents it. Every day begins with careful instructions being written out to follow, like an elaborate recipe for an extravagant dish. Additional notes are scribbled in as the experiments progress. If only those margins could talk...

Figure 3: Just chillin'.
Samples and reagents are thawing on ice before being used in experiments. These are usually kept at sub-zero temperatures for long-term storage. Taking them out of the freezers and keeping them on ice allows for gradual warming, preserving sample integrity and reagent activity.

Figure 4: Thoughtful reflection.
Utmost concentration required. Cross-contamination is a constant threat when working with multiple samples at a time. One stray drop is enough to derail weeks or even months of hard diligent work. Better pay attention. Can you sense the perspiration?

Figure 5: 22-inch spinner.
Spinner. Centrifuge. Get it? This one is a knee-slapper for sure. Samples are "spun down" to separate them. Solids from liquids. Large particles from small. Allows scientists to purify and isolate the specific materials they are working with.

Figure 6: Performing art.
Science is art, and it uses awe-inspiring paints and brushes. Just look at those colors and shapes! Processing cell culture samples sure is a vibrant experience. It is as if one were working inside a Kandinsky painting.

Figure 7: Wasted.
Unfortunately, this art generates a lot of bi-product. Some of it is dangerous. Some of it is paper towels. It would be a nightmare trying to sort all this waste. Soiled nitrile gloves - is that recycling? Hmmm.

Figure 8: Frozen tundra.
The processed samples are put away for extended preservation in a -80C freezer. Some of these will be used again, some of these will be shipped to other labs for further processing, most of these will freeze into one giant popsicle mess that will haunt the next post-doc trying to put together the remnants of ancient research. Seriously, no one knows what is in there.

Figure 9: Lunch break.
Om-nom-nom-nom. That is the sound of revolutionary ideas flowing around openly; of research collaborations being conceived with every pizza bite; of Game of Thrones spoilers flinging about carelessly...What!? Scientists are humans too.

Figure 10: Welcome to the fishbowl.
Privacy is rather negligible, but at least the view is nice. Perhaps they are taking this whole transparency thing a tad too literally. Typing up notes and analyzing data before heading out. It was a good day.

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