Undergrad David Park reflects on his summer research project

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.