Chestnuts in retrospect: background and first impressions from my time in Indiana

Well hello, fellow Charles Center bloggers! It’s been quite a long while since I last posted here, and for the delay I sincerely apologize. But perhaps this absence can be redeemed now by my ability to comment on my experiences with a degree of hindsight. Nonetheless, I will try to narrate the summer as I experienced it at the time, so that I can impart an unfettered sense of what it was actually like to collect my data.

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Preparing to compile research

After a summer of research, I am finally beginning to formally compile my findings. My plan is to create a short written document including survey results from the 2010 Tea Party survey questions, Gallup and other polling firms’ TP research, and a short literary analysis section of recent articles written about the TP Movement. I have contacted a couple of TP researchers across the US (shout out to Emily Gottschalk-Marconi for this idea) and am excited to include other people’s research and thoughts into this final project. Unfortunately, I will not be able to present at the Fall Research Symposium at the end of September because I am abroad this fall in Argentina, but I look forward to presenting my short paper and a poster when I return to campus. I will be making my final blog post in two days after I have made more progress on my final product, which is still in progress and could possibly change as I receive responses from other TP researchers and do some more independent research. I am excited to have a complete project and will post back soon with progress!

Thermoregulatory Tracing Part II: Probe Synthesis

Once there is a purified sample of DNA, it is time for the next step, probe synthesis.  As I stated before, ISH uses a complimentary RNA probe that binds to the RNA of interest and allows the experimenter to see which cells express that RNA.  In order to visualize the probe, a color reaction must take place.  In this case, the probe contains nucleic acids that are bound to a molecule known as digoxidenin (DIG).  This molecule is incorporated into the probe.  Once the probe has bound to the RNA of interest, the scientist performs a color reaction that involves a colored antibody that binds specifically to DIG, thus lighting up the probes once they are inside the cells.

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Thermoregulatory Tracing Part I: DNA Synthesis and Purification

In situ hybridization (ISH) is a laboratory protocol that takes advantage of nucleic acid base pairing to identify the messenger RNAs present in cells.  Essentially the experimenter makes an RNA probe that is complimentary to the RNA of interest that will produce a color reaction in the cells where the RNA of interest is present.  This protocol is extremely useful because based on the central dogma (DNA –> RNA –> protein), scientists can use it to examine gene and protein regulation in cells.

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The View from Here

With school back in session (well, unless you count natural disasters), we’ve begun to evaluate where the project is going. The current goal is to get the paper ready for the 2011 Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies Conference in November. To do this, we are extending some of our work into the semester.

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