Research Update #2 (Our Microbial Minds)

Update #2!!! I’ve finished my research (which consisted of watching TED talks, reading books, and reading lots of scientific articles). I feel like I now have a clear understanding of what the microbiota is and its role in the human body, modern day causes of dysbiosis, how the brain-gut axis works, and science linking gut microbes to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), anxiety/depressive disorders, and Schizophrenia. I ended up going beyond the initial scope of my research question and exploring the application of bacterial probiotics (also called “psychobiotics”) as a form of alternative medicine. Psychobiotics are a class of bacterial supplements specifically aimed at treating psychiatric conditions. While they are still very much in the research phase, there have been surprisingly promising results, especially on the ASD frontier.

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CRISPR and Ethics, Update 2: Planning the Review

For those just tuning in, my project this summer is to write a literature review concerning the ethical implications of CRISPR-cas9 gene-editing technology.   For the first part of my project I focused on understanding the mechanism of CRISPR itself, in order to have a strong knowledge base with which to approach the ethical aspects.  In brief, CRISPR is based on a naturally-occurring anti-viral system which exists in bacteria.  This system can be manipulated in order to delete or insert genes into the target strand.  In my recent work I began delve into what this means CRISPR is capable of, and I have had to redirect the final goal of my project.

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C. elegans Research: Update 3/Final Post!

Although I finished my work on campus a few months ago, I had a lot more analysis to do once I returned home! In order to finish my project and come up with some conclusions, I used photoshop to analyze the images I captured with the epifluorescent microscope. To study these photographs, I viewed the different layers in each image; this allowed me to see different cell parts, such as the DNA and tubulin, individually and as part of the entire picture. Because I completed three different types of immunopreps: DNA/tubulin staining, DNA/actin staining, and DNA/ERM-1 staining (see post #2 for an explanation), I had to analyze each type of prep separately to understand the dynamics of tubulin, actin, and ERM-1 in the mutant C. elegans strain that I was working with in lab. Studying the images I obtained from each prep helped me to understand what went wrong with each of the three proteins (listed above) during the process of spermatogenesis.

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C. Elegans Research: Update #2

(Originally written 6/11/18)

            I have finished the wet lab portion of my project, and I learned so much while working on campus!

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