Book Club: The Hot Zone and Fun in a Lab

Last Friday night our book club met to discuss The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. This nonfiction book chronicles the events that lead to an Ebola outbreak near Washington D.C. Much of the story takes place in laboratories and many of the people are scientists. And it just so happens that my sister-in-law, also named Teri, is a scientist who studies diseases.

She hosted the club and chose this incredible book for us to read. We met at the lab where she works every day. First we met in the board room and enjoyed a delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup with rolls. Next we engaged in our thrilling discussion of the book, which included Teri Mae asking questions that some of us won prizes for if we had the answers (see the pic below of the quirky prizes). After that she gave a short power point presentation on what she does – interesting, but so far over all our heads:)

And then we toured the lab!

She showed us how they do things in the lab, where they keep the cultures and even showed us several of the cultures under the hood (a sterile and safe environment for handling cultures). It was so fascinating. A rare and exciting experience for us.

After the tour she pulled out the bio-hazard suits and a few of us tried them on.

It was so super cool and we all learned a lot. And on Teri Mae’s advice most of us ran right out the next day and got some Clorox to wipe down our counters and bathrooms. Our houses have never been more sterile!

 Teri Mae dispensing of her vast knowledge.
Sitting around the board room table enjoying soup.
 Teri Mae sitting at the hood.
 The enclave where things are sterilized with super-high heat.
The lab. And Jen.
 Hard to tell in pic, but this culture has been genetically engineered to glow in the dark.
Culture of a MRSA – a nasty infection. 
Teri Mae modeling the bio-hazard suit.

My silly sisters in the bio suits.
Jen in the bio suit. We all agreed that these made them look like the characters in Willy Wonka in the Wonkavision – TV room. Ha!
The book and my prize. The prizes were these quirky, hilarious stuffed toys that resemble diseases. I got syphilis (bet you didn’t know you could get syphilis at book club 😉 ). There was also bird flu and, of course, Ebola. Made by Giant Microbes. So fun!
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