This month, we introduced high school students to the field of personal genomics. Ivory, April, and I taught kids how to analyze genetic variation data from 23&Me using Integrated Genome Browser. Ann attended and worked through the exercises along with the kids.
This week, we showed 4th graders how we grow plants in the lab.
I explained that one of the biggest reasons we study plants is to develop hardier, more nutritious crops. I showed them Arabidopsis plants and introduced the concept of a “model” organism in research. Arabidopsis plants are tiny and grow quickly – like weeds – which makes them ideal for quickly testing theories about how plants grow.
Then, they got their hands dirty transplanting radish seedlings from petri dishes into soil – just like we do with Arabidopsis seedlings when we want uniform growth.
Everyone in the Loraine Lab had a lot of fun helping out with the Scientist for a Day program. I’m sure we all learned as much from the experience as the students. We all look forward to showing of our research to more Kannapolis students next school year.
Students from the local Kannapolis middle and High School had the unique opportunity to explore the human genome and learn about bioinformatics – the application of computer technology to biological information.
Nowlan working with a student to find out what genetic risks he has inherited.
In 2012, three generations of my family and I had our genetic markers commercially sequenced. The students used this DNA data to identify who was related to who, what kinds of diseases I was most at risk for, and make new discoveries about my genetic inheritance.
Ivory helping a student answer questions about genetics and inheritance.
The purpose of the workshop was to drive home how new genetic technologies are increasingly being used, as well as to give the students experience using genomics software – Integrated Genome Browser. Thanks to Tanner Deal and Ivory Blakley for helping design and lead the workshop, and to Doug Vernon for organizing the “Scientist for a Day” program. For more information about the “Scientist for a Day” program, check out the story in the Independent Tribune.
A big part of being both a scientist and educator is giving bright young students the opportunity to take part in science. This year the Loraine lab has joined the Plants for Human Health Institute’s “Scientist for a Day” program. Led by Doug Vernon, the program brings in local elementary students to the North Carolina Research Campus to take part in various hands-on experiments in the labs. More information about this program can be found here: https://goo.gl/sY0czu
Students germinating seeds in the lab
The Loraine lab had a strong showing at the 2016 Plant and Animal Genome Conference. Dr. Loraine gave a talk on the draft blueberry genome and on using the Integrated Genome Browser. I gave a talk on using ProtAnnot – an app for IGB to visualize protein function. Check out the workshop page for more information.
With over 150 talks and more than 3,000 attendees, this year’s PAG had a lot to offer and everyone who attended from the Loraine Lab had a great time. And of course we also enjoyed the local San Diego attractions.
Panda in the early morning at the San Diego Zoo
Congratulations to Tanner Deal for tying for first place in UNC Charlotte’s microscopy competition: Visualizing Science. His image “Oryza” is of a developing grain of rice he collected from his experiments. To read the full description, as well as see all of the other microscopy images, check out the online exhibit – https://library.uncc.edu/exhibit_upload/
On the first of September I began my National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship through the plant genome research program. As such, I was able to attend this year’s Plant Genome Awardee Meeting along with Dr. Loraine. It was a great opportunity to hear talks on the latest plant research and exchange ideas with other plant geneticists. I had a great time, and am looking forward to next year’s meeting.
There were two days of talks on the latest research into plant genetics and biology.
The Loraine lab traveled to the Minneapolis convention center for the 2015 American Society for Plant Biology meeting. There were many great talks given on recent advances in plant biology and crop sciences. Our own April Estrada gave a talk on the role of the gene SR45a in stress response in plants. I gave a talk on using IGB as a resource for teaching, as well as a workshop introducing visual analysis of RNA-seq data.
April giving her talk on SR45a
Everyone had a great time at the various talks, workshops, and exhibits. It was also a great chance to network with other researchers. Of course, we also made sure to take some time to visit the Twin Cities.
I want to thank the Society for Developmental Biology for inviting me to their annual meeting in Snowbird, Utah. I had the opportunity to give a talk on the work that April Estrada and I have done on the role of SR45a in alternative splicing in stress response. I also led a workshop on using Integrated Genome Browser to visually analyze high-throughput sequence data. We had a great turnout, as many of the attendees were very interested in using IGB in their work.
SDB attendees finding out more about IGB.
Snowbird is a ski resort located in the mountains near Salt Lake City. I was able to take the tram to the top of the mountain and take some photos. It was a great location for a conference.
View from top of Snowbird, looking out over Salt Lake City.
The IGB team welcomes John Eckstein to the group. John joins us from Red Hat, where he worked for several years in software development and engineering. We’re excited to have John on the team and look forward to his many contributions to making IGB even better for biologists and students.
IGB made an appearance at the 2015 Southeast Regional Society for Developmental Biology (SESDB) conference at Clemson University. I led a workshop on visual analysis of sequencing data using IGB. There was a good turnout of conference attendees, as well as several students from Clemson University.
Following the workshop there were many exciting talks on current research in developmental biology. Some of my favorite talks were on regenerating hearts and spinal cords in fish, how hair cells develop, and how to use sharks to better understand brain development.
As a graduate of Clemson University, it was a lot of fun to return to Clemson, lead a workshop, and enjoy the company of many brilliant scientists.
Everyone enjoying the final night’s food and festivities, including the band FNKY music.