We were fortunate to have several wonderful undergrads, in addition to David, in the lab over the summer. Rising sophomore Huseyin Demir is part of the NU Bioscientist program, which funded his summer research experience. Here’s what he had to say about it:
As a part of the NU Bioscientist program here at Northwestern, I was able to get a summer research grant that aims to introduce and expose freshmen to research in a field of their choice. I had very little lab experience prior to joining the Hartmann Lab, but this grant made it possible for me to do research as a full-time job.
I looked into utilizing a relatively new technique called PMA-qPCR, which uses a DNA binding agent called Propidium Monoazide and qPCR in order to differentiate between the viable and non-viable bacteria in a given sample. I first tested the technique on practice samples to develop a reliable method and then used it to supplement and provide a comparison to PhD student Jinglin Hu’s data in assessing viability of bacteria on surfaces with different paints.
My work in the lab was guided by our technician, Adam Glawe, who familiarized me with the lab techniques I needed to perform this project and provided constant feedback on the data collection and analysis.
I now feel much more comfortable doing research in a lab setting, and I look forward to working with the Hartmann Lab on many more projects during my undergraduate career.
David Park, who is a junior at Northwestern, is wrapping up his summer research project, funded by a Summer Undergraduate Research Grant. This is what he has to say:
David Park, setting up samples for PCR.
Last April, I received the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research. The grant was for a new project that compares the genetic composition of dust-borne Staphylococcus aureus and its other strains in clinical settings. Immediately after hearing the news about the grant award, I began screening for S. aureus in the collection of bacterial samples that had been generated by the laboratory’s cultivation team. The methods included agar plate streaking, DNA extraction, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which together made up the biggest part of my time in lab.
Laboratory guidance and assistance from Alex McFarland, our graduate student who recently joined the lab, and other lab members was very valuable; the weeks of screening went smoothly with their help. It was interesting to find a clinically common bacterial species in indoor dust, especially those that are potentially hazardous due to antibiotic resistance. During the process, I learned more about microbiology and microbiological research, and feel more comfortable performing lab techniques, which I am glad about.
The goal of the screening so far was to have dust-borne S. aureus samples ready for sequencing. Sequencing is the next step of the project, which I hope to get into after my month-long shadowing program in South Korea.
Last Wednesday, the Hartmann Lab took par into the « My Research in 180s » competition. The aim of this competition open to anyone doing research, is to explain to a non-specialist audience in only 180 seconds the work done on a research question.
Only a single static slide is allowed and the candidates had to provide a good understanding of the background of the research question as well as its signifiance. Presenters had also to describe the key results, including the outcomes and the conclusion, following a clear and logical sequence. They also had to communicate in a langage appropriate to a non-specialist audience, explain terminology when necessary and spend adequate time on each element of their presentation.