Tuesday, April 26, 2016

URSP Student Brianna Nielsen Conducts a Metagenomics Study of Bacterial Communities and Mycobacteriophages in Different Soil Types

I am currently a biology major at George Mason, and hope to matriculate into the accelerated nursing program at Mason in fall 2017. I am interested in bioinformatics and have a new interest in data sciences research. I’m interested in developing my bioinformatics research skills, for this knowledge to transfer to my future career in nursing: I believe that nursing is not well utilizing the data sciences, and that there is a wonderful opportunity for nurses to use large data sets (big data) to improve patient care. As an undergraduate, I’m looking forward to develop my bench skills (biology research) and computational skills. I’m also really interested in bacteriophages. Mycobacteriophage are perhaps a cutting edge resource for medicine today, and seem to be useful for treating bacterial infections therapeutically. My OSCAR project is conducted with OSCAR applicant Jennifer Jones.

On a weekly basis, my colleague and I perform the procedures outlined in our proposals. At the beginning of the semester, we began ordering supplies and materials needed as well as conducting workbench organization. Primers were ordered in preparation for performing PCR after extracting the DNA from our mycobacteriophage. We were able to obtain control mycobacteriophages from a JMU collaborator a week ago, in order to test our ordered primers. However this week, my colleague and I made the mistake of placing our control mycobacteriophages in the deep freezer. This can destroy the mycobacteriophage organisms in the samples. We have taken them out and are now conducting the standard amplification procedures to help us identify if our mycobacteriophage are still viable or not. If mycobacteriophages are found, with the infection of mycobacterium smegmatis, we can continue performing PCR and testing the validity of our primers. If not, then we will have to wait another week for another order of control phages.