Each participant in any one of our 3-week programs will be fully immersed in all aspects of original laboratory research. As part of an authentic STEM experience, each participant will be encouraged to utilize creative thinking and analytical skills to develop their own scientific hypothesis and design their own investigation. Expert scientists will guide the participants through literature research to develop a sound experimental design and choose from a variety of experimental techniques available in our lab to execute their experiments. Successful completion of each investigation will require engineering and problem-solving skills as the participant builds and adapts scientific instruments to the evolving needs of their investigation. In the final week, all participants will apply advanced statistical analysis on their data and prepare an oral presentation of their research to a group of scientists and guests.
To enable participants to perform novel investigations, our lab utilizes two model organisms, the free-living roundworm C. elegans and the aquatic crustacean Daphnia magna. These organisms make powerful investigative models; they are safe and easy to manipulate, applicable to a wide variety of environmental and human health issues, and able to yield reliable data rapidly. Participants will also have the option to design their studies utilizing plant tissue culture.
Regardless of the organism selected, our laboratory is well equipped to utilize a wide array of molecular biology techniques including: polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis, DNA/RNA/Protein isolation and analysis, western blot (immunoblotting), DNA sequencing, reverse transcription/real-time PCR, and DNA cloning into bacteria. Some of the instrumentation available to enable this work includes: advanced microscopes (stereo, inverted, fluorescent, and dark field), a sterile room with a Class 2 clean bench, refrigerated and non-refrigerated centrifuges, and thermal cyclers (including a RT-PCR thermal cycler). For an optimal learning experience, informational videos and brief reading materials will be provided prior to the start of program. All participants will begin the program with instruction on the safe use of the STEM laboratory instruments and will conclude the session with an oral presentation of their investigation to regional STEM professionals and guests.
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