Gathering info

I have spent a whole lot of time looking through newspaper articles. I’m glad that a lot of historical newspaper databases are available online and that I can search for key words to find the articles pertinent to my research. However, some of the search engines are not that helpful and give me results that are completely irrelevant. Despite the wonderful invention of the search engine, I still have to spend time sifting through articles to see what I can include in my notes.

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Different places, different views

A view of the reconstructed skeletons of domestic slave quarters at Montpelier, James Madison's plantation.

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100 molecules to go


I have just completed my first week of summer research and have set a few short term goals for the following week. I am currently focusing on two things: data collection and literature research. I am continuing my work from the school year of collecting blinking traces of Rhodamine B (RB) dye on TiO2. To quickly recap, the RB dye is diluted with water and TiO2 to 1e-9M. This solution is then spin-coated onto a blank slide and analyzed under a confocal microscope. A laser is then used to hit the slide, resulting in fluorescent molecules, a photon detector and scanning acquisition program then produces an image, in which molecules show up as bright spots. Once the molecules are located, each one is hit with the laser and blinking are traces are collected as the molecule switches from on (fluorescent) states to dark states(Fig.1).  Once in a permanent dark state, the molecule is photo-bleached. Data collected on a photo-bleached molecule provides no useful information, so I am experimenting with different factors to increase the molecules stability for longer data collection time. Currently, molecules are put in a Nitrogen atmosphere for increased stability. The power of the laser also effects how long the molecule may fluoresce until being photo-bleached, and currently the best power has been a wave plate length of 20nm. Half of the times blinking traces are collected, however the other times the molecules are already photo-bleached. There are some cases where the molecules begin to fluoresce after certain periods of times, making it difficult to know if a molecule is truly photo bleached.  As more data is collected this week, I hope to better understand patterns and time duration of the blinking traces. The goal is to collect useable data from 100 molecules! Currently I have 28, I guess I have a ways to go.

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Summer Research

I am very excited about my research opportunity this summer.  The name of my project is “An Animal Model of Bullying: Exploratory Development.” My research will examine the effects of social interaction in the rat in a “bullying” context.  In brief sessions one rat will exert non-harming and naturally occurring dominance over another rat (“bullying”) and the bullied rat will be assessed for effects of the social interaction on short and long-term residual anxiety. Primary interest is in how bullying experiences affect anxiety and my main goal is to develop an animal model that can be used to better understand behavioral and possibly neural correlates of bullying experiences. Questions my research is designed to address include: (1) how long-lasting are the effects of a bullying experience? (2) does a prior bullying experience impair cognitive function and the ability to learn? (3) what sorts of experiences, including positive social experiences, mitigate or reduce the negative effects of bullying?