Down Time/Limited Resources

Although there was much excitement about the project I was doing during the summer, I quickly hit a wall. That wall was that the lab needed more tubes to handle all the projects at the same time. All the samples from the field were being collected in a timely fashion, counts of virus concentration were made, and DNA was filtered and frozen. After these steps, there was another set of steps which involved purifying DNA from a virus sample before sending it off for sequencing. Unfortunately, the lab was running at least three projects simultaneously, forcing us to order more tubes. They took about a week to arrive.

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A Brief Summary on My Low-Income Housing Research

Summarizing the weeks I spent on my research on low-income and public housing is not an easy task. To start, I should say it was nothing like I expected. Almost nothing worked out the way I anticipated. The professors I planned on partnering with were unavailable. The book I planned on reading got seriously back ordered. The information I thought would be available through databases and research was largely non-existent. I think that I could have been much more successful had I not been focused on the location of the Williamsburg area. This area isn’t very populated, and I think that most of the statistics developed within the town are focused on the College and on the tourism industry, rather than on poverty and the town’s status on housing. I think there is still an incredible amount for me to learn. If anything though, I have discovered how troublesome the housing crisis here is. I have learned of the difficult balance the town is forced to uphold. Between the College and the Colonial Williamsburg tourism industry, Williamsburg must maintain this image of perfection and a sense of utopia in order to keep money coming in. Without this, the service jobs these industries provide would be lost. Unfortunately it is the employees of the service industry that have so much trouble finding affordable housing. So if a public housing or low-income housing project was built in plain-view, it could hurt the tourism industry, and ultimately its inhabitants. Therefore the housing crisis here is not one that can easily be solved, but I think it would be beneficial if more of the aiding organizations and the city came together to help the problem. They would be much more effective if they worked together. I feel very lucky to have been granted the opportunity to do my research, and it has been such a great learning experience.

Closing Comments

This summer, I was fortunate to work with a team in Dr. Allison’s lab on a project characterizing importin binding to thyroid hormone receptor alpha. Importins are proteins that play important roles in transporting molecules into the nucleus of the cell; by binding to a target protein, and then binding to nuclear pore complex on the nuclear membrane, importins can translocate and release cargo across the nuclear membrane. Thyroid hormone receptor alpha (TRα) is a transcription factor; that is, it is a protein that regulates gene expression, in this case in response to the presence of thyroid hormone, or T3. The receptor shuttles back and forth between the nucleus, but the precise methods of localization of TRα have yet to be fully characterized.

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An Inconclusive Summary

As I mentioned in my last post, I am far from finished with my research, the end goal being an article sent in to be published by the end of December. However, I accomplished much over the summer. I mapped 31 sites (10x10m sections of coral reef) for two species of coral and one type of disease. I found that the disease was more prevalent on one of the coral species. But I have not finished the spatial analyses because in the last few weeks, we changed the statistics we were using and I had to learn new methods of comparing the spatial data. I am still in the process of completing these analysis. I have managed to get my old disease transmission model code to work, but am now developing a new model involving use of a continuous function. My research is a work in progress, but my time spent at Mote brought me closer to my adviser, broadened my view of ocean acidification and coral disease research, and gave me valuable time to work on my project. I look forward to completing my research during this semester, even though right now it seems like having to take classes and graduate is taking away too much time from my research which is really all that I want to do.

Summary of Research

This summer we worked on a variety of issues in the community as we continued to keep the project’s momentum going. This abstract will briefly summarize the majority of the projects we focused on.

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