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Life in the Lab

TCNJ’s Alcohol Lab is a great opportunity to engage in collaborative research outside of the traditional classroom model. Lab members, aside from weekly lab meetings, typically work about 12 hours per week (including weekends) and participate in the following learning activities and lab responsibilities:

  • Training programs in animal welfare, human subjects protection, and laboratory procedures
  • Data collection, entry, and analysis
  • Health care and maintenance of laboratory rats
  • Laboratory and animal facility cleaning
  • Reading of, writing about, and discussion of relevant journal articles to advance understanding of alcohol and other drug abuse

Typical Lab Day

Currently, the Alcohol Lab conducts operant sessions with a group of 16 animal subjects. There are four rounds of sessions per day with four animal subjects each round. Each day there are four scheduled shifts of students that have to complete designated tasks. A typical day (per shift) in the Alcohol Lab is as follows:

9:30 AM Shift

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  • Prepare ethanol and sucrose solutions
  • Fill and cap bottles (to be used in operant chambers)
  • Weigh bottles and record mass of bottles
  • Prepare excel data sheet for the day; enter initial data
  • Clean glassware and supplies used to make solutions

11:00 AM Shift

Bianca and Taylor loading operant boxes.    Mitch and Steve collecting data in the Operant Room.

  • Retrieve animals from the colony room
  • Prepare operant chambers
  • Use computer to load and run operant programs
  • Begin Group 1 operant session
  • Pull out Group 1 and record data on printed data sheet
  • Clean and prepare chambers for Group 2
  • Begin operant session for Group 2

12:30 PM Shift

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  • Pull out Group 2 and record data
  • Clean and prepare chambers for Group 3
  • Begin operant session for Group 3
  • Pull out Group 3 and record data
  • Begin operant session for Group 4

2:00 PM Shift

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  • Pull out Group 4 and record data
  • Clean and prepare operant chambers for the next day
  • Return animals to the colony room
  • Weigh bottles and record mass
  • Enter the data results into the excel sheet
  • Check the data for discrepancies
  • Clean the bottles and any remaining dirty glassware

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