Ingrid Rosko, Graduate Student (Yang Laboratory), Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School
Culturing cells is commonplace in many research labs; this involves bathing cells in a complex but carefully balanced mixture of nutrients which keeps them alive and metabolically active. In our laboratory, we use cell culture techniques to create tissue-engineered blood vessels that we can use to explore vessel dynamics in the setting of various human diseases. During a trying day of experiments, I noticed a small spot on my cell culture dish and immediately worried that the culture might be contaminated and ruined. Looking under the microscope, I was astonished to see an intricately ordered “crystal city”. A tiny drop of culture media had crystallized on the bottom of the dish, producing this beautiful pattern of branching leaves and geometric grids.