By Matt Metzger
Prior to my trip to Israel I had never spent a night outside the US and the longest flight I had ever been on was a 6-hour flight coast to coast across the US. I had always wanted to do a study abroad in college but I never had the opportunity. I finally got my chance when I got to work in Professor Itzhak Mizrahi’s lab as part of a collaboration with Professor Otto Cordero’s lab. I embarked on a more than 10-hour flight not quite sure what to expect when I arrived. Delirious from lack of sleep I shambled up to the security to be admitted into the country. The security officer asked “where are you going in Israel?” I stammered “I am going to Beersheba to work at…” The security officer cut me off “Why in the world would you want to go to Beersheba?” I began explaining that I would be working in a biology lab, before the officer laughed and said “it was a rhetorical question.” Confused I made my way to the airport lobby where the illustrious Tamar Zehavi was there to take me to my new home. On the journey from the airport to Beersheba she began explaining to me the culture that I was going to be immersed in for the next several months. Upon arriving in Beersheba, the Mizrahi lab made the most of the fresh set of experimental hands. I was unceremoniously locked in the anaerobic lab to toil away with fresh rumen samples to discover how the microbial communities living in the cow rumen attached and degraded the cow feed over time. Hours turned to days…days to weeks…I emerged from this ordeal like a newborn calf, with more questions than answers and more samples than I knew what to do with.
Throughout my time in the lab I have used to microscopy and molecular techniques to investigate how the microbial communities go through successions during the consumption of plant fibers in the cow rumen environment. Through many trials and tribulations, we have developed methods of measuring the degradation of plant fibers over time which we will utilize to compare microbial communities in the future. Use a time series we will be able to gain insights to what microbial community and metabolic activity shifts occur during and dictate microbial successions in the rumen environment.
Israel itself is full of captivating scenery, delicious food, and gracious people. It has been exhilarating to explore the incredibly diverse experiences the different regions of Israel have to offer. Israel has changed me: hummus and pita are both major food groups in my diet. I have routinely been blown away by how accommodating people are and excited to share with me Israeli tradition and experiences. My time with the Mizrahi lab and in Israel in general has thoroughly been life changing experience, both scientifically and personally.
Stay tuned to keep up with the latest adventures of the Mizrahi lab! 🙂
Left To right – Itzik, Tamar me and Stav from the Mizrahi lab
Me with my ride to work everyday
The majestic view of Mitzpe Ramon