Thursday, August 4, 2011

Biology major doing summer research at Johns Hopkins University

In addition to the thirteen students that have been conducting research with our faculty on the Ashland campus this summer, a number of science students are off at other Universities as part of various National Science Foundation-funded undergraduate research programs.  Lindsey Knapp, a rising Junior Biology major, reports that her research at Johns Hopkins University is going very well, and that she has not only learned lots of new lab techniques, but has gained insights into how science is done.

Lindsey is actually working at the Hopkins-affiliated Carnegie Institution of Washington with Dr. Marnie Halpern, who uses the zebrafish as a model organism to study brain development.  Lindsey has been researching how genes control the asymmetrical development of the habenula, a small region of the brain near the pineal gland.  To do this she has learned not only how to breed and raise larval (baby) zebrafish, but the techniques required to visualize where individual genes are turned on in the body.  She has produced important, new data, and explains that she disproved a published paper's hypothesis about the gene she is studying.  Lindsey writes that:
"I have developed fine motor skills like I never thought possible.  Working with the larva, dissecting them, dissecting adult brains, using microscopes - at first I though I was going to fail, but I caught on pretty quick and now it seems like second nature."
Outside of lab Lindsey has been attending seminars to hear about other scientists' research, as well as sessions on making her own poster presentation, science policy and ethics, and the life of a graduate student (Lindsey would like to get her PhD after graduating from Ashland).
"And the best part is the crepe truck that comes to where I work every Wednesday."
Check this blog for more stories about our students doing research off campus, and for news on next summer's research opportunities.

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