Bio-610 Students Present Findings

The seven students in Biology 610 showcased their term’s work last Monday with comprehensive posters. Biology 610 is, “just like an independent project, except it is a course,” explained Dr. Kristen Johnson, Instructor in Biology. Biology 610 is a course designed to follow Biology 600, which focuses on teaching the students how to conduct an experiment concerning molecular biology, and how to use the tools necessary to complete the experiment. Each of the students was responsible for coming up with a unique topic and then executing their project throughout the course of the year. Jess Choi ’08 said, “The course is really independent research, Dr. Johnson is there to guide us.” Some of the students came into the course with a predetermined focus for their studies, but others found their area of interest later on. Although all students made significant progress, some garnered success while others realized their miscalculations. Among the experiments that did not work out as planned, Choi’s experiment, concerning the DNA of worms, could not be completed due to contamination over break. Sardis Harward ’08 researched lung and bone cancer, hoping to reduce tumors through injections of vitamin D. Harward’s experiment was successful, and “in one trial, with one line of bone cancer, the tumor growth decreased significantly,” she said. Other students set out on their experiments with no predetermined goal, but rather to see what they could find out about their subject. Zach Feldman ’08 worked with different substances to determine whether certain proteins were necessary to create spores. Ultimately, Feldman’s project concluded that the proteins were not necessary. Feldman got the idea for his project because, “Dr. Johnson had previous knowledge, and I knew that she would be able to help me out.” Katie Zimmerman ’08 conducted her experiment on the effects of hydroseed, the type of fertilizer that the Office of the Physical Plant uses on PA grass. “I’ve always been kind of suspicious of the stuff, so I decided to test it on bacteria,” said Zimmerman. Her results proved that hydroseed can be damaging to some ecosystems. Although Zimmerman is graduating this year, she plans to write an Abbot Grant to change the type of fertilizer used at PA to an organic brand. The experiments started in winter term and progressed into spring term. Zimmerman said, “Last term I took qualitative results, but this term I tested for quantitative results.” Looking forward, the students in the program hope to continue with their experiments. This summer, Feldman has an internship concerning his experiment’s topic. The purpose of the poster session was to advertise Biology 610’s progress over the year and to inform any students interested in taking the course next year. In addition to the posters, each student of Biology 610 will turn in a paper detailing the course of their experiment throughout the year.