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.
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.
The Loraine lab had a strong showing at the 4th annual Catalyst Symposium, with Ivory, April, and I presenting posters on our current research.
The title of the symposium was “Progress in NCRC”. The theme was to highlight the highly diverse and interdisciplinary research being conducted across the North Carolina Research Campus. There were nine talks, eighteen posters, and over a hundred attendees. The talks and posters were very good, covering topics such as the role of obesity in promoting cancer and finding what genes control the taste of fruits and vegetables.
Ivory and April presented posters on their work in rice and Arabidopsis, respectively, while I presented the latest features in IGB. It was a lot of work to prepare for the symposium, but everyone had a great time and learned a lot.
Yesterday we had a lab dinner to celebrate Tarun Kanaparthi’s December 2014 graduation – he is earning his Masters degree in Computer Science from UNC Charlotte.
Following a vacation, he plans to start work at his new job, to be determined. Like many recent or soon-to-be graduates in computer science and bioinformatics, he is trying to decide between multiple opportunities. It’s nice to know that computer programming and data analysis skills are still in demand. Congratulations Tarun!
Here is a photo from the going-away party. From left to right, we are:
April Estrada, Ivory Blakley, Mason Meyer, David Norris, Tarun Kanaparthi, Tarun Mall, Nowlan Freese