We Had Fun with Genomics!
Wow! It’s been an exciting week!! Crystal Snowden and I flew to San Diego Friday, March 5th – jumped off the plane and the fun began! We went straight to the lab and set up for BEWiSE and prepped for Expanding Your Horizons (EYH). We are really fortunate to have such a great team in the San Diego facility.
Saturday started early with Crystal Snowden heading out to EYH at University of San Diego. I did not go, but Crystal said it was an AWESOME time. She worked with 45 young ladies. The students learned about Winograsky columns and how the environmental organisms contributed to the microbial fuel cells and waste water treatment. They prepared microscope slides by staining bacteria and viewed them under the microscopes. The participants ranged in age from 12 to 16. Unfortunately, Crystal was too busy to take pictures! The quote of the day was, “This is AWESOME!”
While Crystal was busy at USD, Orianna Bretschger, Shino Ishii, Angela Wu, Eric Son and I hosted 16 young ladies from BEWiSE. Our day started early too at 9:00, running through 2:30. We learned about genomics, microbial fuel cells and waste water treatment. In the labs, the girls mastered pipetting and DNA extraction culminating with DNA isolation from the Winograsky columns. The day ended with setting up PCR of the DNA isolates. It was like riding a lab train.
During the week, Crystal finished the students’ samples through library construction and the second PCR. The samples then traveled east to Rockville for sequencing, where Monica Thomas picked up the process. She prepped them for sequencing and came in at 3:00AM Saturday morning to pull the data off the sequencers for us. Wow! That is team work AND dedication.
We started again Saturday, March 13th early at 9:00AM. I knew the samples worked, but the BEWiSE participants didn’t. We poured our agarose gels, used a new buffer that enables the gels to run faster, checked out the transformation plates – ending with a BLAST search of their sequence DATA. Of the eight groups, six had data – the sequencing of the 16s RNA gene matched uncultured bacteria. Cool! Some were related to Cyanobacteria – even cooler! It was a great time for young ladies and JCVI staff. We get invigorated too!!!
How could the week get better? In the middle of the week, we also exhibited at the San Diego Science Alliance High Tech Fair as I noted in my last posting. We brought the Winograsky columns, the sediment tanks and the microscopes. We recruited a few more JCVI staff and scientists to help – Sue Fields, Greg Wanger, Jeff McLean, Adi Ramon and Jeff McQuaid. Under the scopes we had some estuary water with algae, small bacteria and paramecium – cool. For our younger guests, we also had Daphnia to look at. With the scopes, we were able to draw participants’ interest and then talk about our batteries and water reclamation. Tuesday night, we had participants of all ages – 800 in two-hours. Wednesday, there were at least 1,000 students being bus’d in from all over San Diego. The booth was rockin’ and rollin’ – and it wasn’t just because the booth next to us had Guitar Hero™.
I flew back to Maryland Sunday – exhausted. It was a GREAT week! I hope to see all the BEWiSE girls applying for internships in the next year or two. Don’t forget to tell your teachers what you did!
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Watch for us at the SD Science Festival on MARCH 27th!!