Monday, May 12, 2014

URSP Student Jeffery Warner Conducts Genetics Research

Ever since starting college I have loved science labs, whether it was general biology, genetics, or chemistry I really enjoyed working with my hands and then seeing the results take form on paper. And because of this research was always a collegiate goal of mine. But when I transferred into George Mason my junior year I did not think that research was something that would happen. That is, until fall semester of my senior year. I took BIOL 308 with Dr. Crerar, and I got to know her some throughout the semester, so at the end of the semester I asked if she had any research she was doing that I could be apart of. She told me about her project and when I was interested in it, welcomed me on board.

Doing research is one of only a few true tastes of the professional scientific community that you will have the opportunity to sample in your undergraduate career. For me the skills I am developing through research will serve me wherever I go. Specifically interacting with others in a professional setting, and getting exposure to the scientific community. I am planning on attending medical school and in addition to research being attractive on an application the relationship with a professor who has worked with me and seen how I carry myself in a professional setting can show medical schools, through a letter of reference, who I am, and set me apart from others.

In my case I am doing genetics research, specifically the identification of ancient bone through DNA isolation, amplification through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and sequencing to identify a species through specific markers in the code called microsatellites. We use gel electrophoresis to find out if the amplification was successful before sending it to be sequenced. But on a weekly basis I take isolated DNA and run PCR using different combinations of primers and PCR programs to try and get the DNA to amplify. Then running gels to see if it worked. It tends to be a lot of trial and error. This past week was the first time I had drilled some of the samples of ancient bone and carried out the isolation of DNA myself instead of using previously isolated samples.