Reflection on a summer at W&M

Its been a nearly a month since I was last at William & Mary. Since then I have been able to get out of the lab, work and play outside, not touch my computer, and reflect on my 5 weeks of research.

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Writing a Literature Review

Part of my research work for the summer has consisted of writing a literature review.  This entails reading over articles pertaining to my research question, writing summaries, and integrating the information they contain in order to situate my own research question within a broader academic context.  The impact of media coverage on various facets of public policy and politics has been studied extensively, but many questions about the full effect of media coverage remain.

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Third Post!

While my time in the Young Lab has come to a close, I still have much to discuss. In the last few weeks I started on an actual experiment for the AzoBen UAA. I took agar plates, which are plates that bacteria grow on, and created an environment where bacteria can express the photoswitchable nature of GFP with my UAA. I took four plates, and to three of them I added 10 ml of agar, 10  μl of IPTG, 10  μl of Arabinose, 10  μl of chloramphenicol, 10 μl of Ampicillin, and 100 μl of AzoBen. On the fourth plate, I repeated the same procedure, except I did not add AzoBen. I then plated bacteria that could inherently grow GFP. The purpose of this setup, was to test whether I could detect changes in fluorescence when I irradiated the bacteria. Since three of the plates contained GFP with AzoBen, they theoretically should be able to change the fluorescence. I took one plate, irradiated half of it for 10 minutes, at 365nm. I then left the plate overnight in an incubator. When I came back and checked the fluorescence, I noticed that both sides were the same. This meant that either the experiment did not work, or that the plate did change, but changed back. Hoping that the result meant the latter, I took one plate and irradiated half of it for 10 minutes at 365nm, and checked it after an hour. To my joy, one side had a different fluorescence reading than the other. This meant that the experiment had work; but now I needed to check if the bacteria reverted back. After a few hours of hopeful checking, I saw that the irradiated bacteria were changing back to their original fluorescence! This was fantastic news, as I now have supporting evidence that my UAA is able to alter the function of GFP, but is also able to undo these changes.

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Hydrogen Peroxide Fun

In the closing weeks of my research experience, Dr. Cooke tasked me with finding a procedure for determining the actual percentage of hydrogen peroxide that was in a sample.  The hydrogen peroxide was used in cleaning to prepare an algal sample for imaging under a scanning electron microscope.  Very small amounts of the hydrogen peroxide (30%) are actually used in the cleaning and so I had been using a smaller sample separate from the larger container.  This container went through multiple cycles of heating and cooling, so it was natural to ask whether the amount of hydrogen peroxide is comparable to the apparent starting value of 30% by volume or if the sample had degraded significantly after the heating cycles.

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Live and Learn in Lamjung

Students in Sahilitar mapping a bridge with GPS

Students in Sahilitar mapping a bridge with GPS

Namascar,
On July 13, Aarti and I stumbled up a precarious hillside path to our temporary home in Sahilitar, Lamjung District. With the help of a translator, we spent a week teaching 20 students at the Shree Gyanodaya Higher Secondary School how to think spatially, using GPS to map their community to this end. The students struggled at first to overcome a number of misconceptions: most had difficulty envisioning objects from a bird’s-eye view, and had not considered mapping as related to photography or math. We tailored our lessons to take advantage of the student’s skill with geometry, which they were in the process of learning during their regular school hours. Geometry is critical to cartography, so they picked up the basics more rapidly than we had initially expected based on their prior inexperience with maps. By the end of the training, they were able to confidently orient themselves North and South, to conceive of their community in geospatial terms, and were prepared to begin mapping online for Open Street Map (OSM).

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