Week 1 update

The first week of my research went very well. I’m working mainly on a project investigating how complex patterns form in plants. Complex patterns appear everywhere in nature, from the stripes of a tiger to the spots on a butterfly, a lot of research has been done discovering how these patterns form in animals. However, complex pattern mechanisms evolved separately in plants and animals and much less research has studied how complex patterns form in plants. In my lab, we’re using the yellow, spotted flower Mimulus as a model to discover how the spots form at different stages of development and eventually create a computer program that can predict how the spots will form. My part of this project involves planting and maintaining different Mimulus varieties and cutting the flowers at different stages of development and imaging the petals. This week I’ve dissected around 20 flowers, taking images of the center petal, top right petal, and throat of the flower. After imaging the petal, I allow it to soak in ethanol which draws out the color of the petal, turning it into a clear petal and showing the veins. I then add a stain to the petal which the veins suck in, allowing me to image the vein structure of the petal. After, I create an image of the colored spot and vein placement of the petals and send it to other members of the lab who will analyze the images and use it to build the computer program. fullsizeoutput_e

Week 1 Progress

The first week of research consisted of preliminary research and planning for the rest of the summer. The week began with my first meeting with my advisor marking the beginning of research. We discussed expectations and goals for the summer. The main goal established was to create something that can be used by others in the future, so student researchers in the future can pick up where I left off. Three projects were established to meet this goal. By the end of the summer my aim is to create my own data set, a research poster reflecting my work for the research symposium in the fall, and a mini research paper. The main reason I am doing research this summer is to determine my future career interests. Is research for me? Is graduate school for me? What is government research? This study will help me to answer these questions.
My first task was to identify at least 20 sources answering questions regarding State Education Agencies, agencies tasked with implementing federal and state education programs and policies. They must also make sure these policies are carried out in school districts. I was told to find sources dealing with the (1) capacity of State Education Agencies to perform tasks (2) the performance of schools, students, and the agencies and (3) state education agencies contributing to or hindering equity in schools. I found that state education agencies are caught between meeting the needs of schools and the federal government. The preliminary research suggests that state education agencies lack the capacity to perform tasks. This upcoming week I am to continue finding sources and learn more about the topic.

Update: Lab Technique Training

Last Friday (June 7th, 2019) was the last day of laboratory training. The first two weeks of the first summer session was to introduce us new trainees to common lab techniques. We learned how to clone DNA via a plasmid preparation process, use to properly perform mammalian tissue culture, set up an experiment in six-well plates, fix cells and mount them on slides, and to examine cells under the fluorescence microscope.  During the first two weeks, we were asked to seriously think about our independent project and how we would execute our first few experiments. So far, I have been enjoying my experience in the lab. Everyday, I learn something new and I can not wait to learn more.

End of Week II update

The focus of my project has shifted from focusing on how medical students learn to how the action potential is taught at the undergraduate level. This shift has helped me to discern what a LPU could be for my project. The new topic has also helped me to find more useful literature; the previous topic yielded very little as a small amount of studies have asked this question. I now intend on working through the papers I have found and looking at their references for examples of more papers.

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