Wednesday, April 11, 2018

URSP Student Sabrina Lamont Researches Quorum Sensing

The first time I became interested in research quorum sensing, also known as bacterial communication, was my senior year of high school when my biology teacher showed us Bonnie Bassler’s revolutionary TED talk on how bacteria talk. Quorum sensing is a fascinating process where bacteria coordinate their actions by “talking” to each other. This concept is so ground breaking because it is what allows unicellular bacteria to act as a multicellular organism. Therefore, if researchers were to give these bacteria “earplugs” by blocking the external receptors that detect quorum sensing molecules, the actions regulated by quorum sensing would theoretically be inhibited. Identifying a possible “earplug” molecule is what I’ve based my research on.

Preforming this research is vital to my long-term goals because I plan to attain my PhD so that I can research quorum sensing as my career. This research is providing valuable experience and lessons for when I attend grad school.

In terms of a usual week schedule, I would go into the lab Monday through Friday for a few hours before classes. I culture my bacteria, make plates, autoclave everything, make crude methanolic extracts, and then see if the extract worked through minimum inhibition concentration assays. Not necessarily in that order. I usually can only do one test a week because it takes a day to culture the bacteria, a day to do the experiment, then one more day to record results and by then the week is over. Now I say, “I would go into lab” because I am no longer due to the fact that I am currently waiting for a specific bacterial strain from England. Therefore, one thing I can say I’ve discovered this term is how long international shipping takes. I have been anxiously waiting for my bacteria for almost a month and can’t wait to take it into my lab and get back to work before the semester is over.