Scholars Academic Showcase
May, 1 2009
Study of Mutations in Hepatitis C Virus in Acutely Infected Hepatitis C Patients and the Impact on Disease Outcome
Left: Maria working on the Hepatitis C virus at NIH, Right: Miniprep of the viruses
Description of ProjectMaria worked to sequence genome of patients before and after treatment to find mutations occurring in Hepatitis C Virus in acutely infected patients. For those who failed treatment, she compared the mutations the virus undergone. One the main theory today is that the virus adapt randomly so Maria wanted to determine whether it was possible that the virus adapted to the environment and whether the immunes system can pressure the virus to adapt. So far, Maria has sequenced the entire viral genome before and after treatment for one patient and nearly completed sequencing the viral genome before and after treatment for a second patient.
What personal benefits were gain from this project?Maria gained some general work and research experience from this project. She’s been working in this lab since high school due to her high school internship program, and after two years, she has learn that she’s only interested in research part time. She would not like to pursue a career in research. Furthermore, after working with her mentor for a few years, she has gotten more connections with other scientists.
What were the main pitfalls or obstacles of the project? The biggest obstacle of this project was the time issue. Sequencing the genome takes a good amount of time and requires a very long procedure. First off, it takes about a whole week to get a good product. Further, failure at the reverse transcription phase is possible, which messes up the data and wastes time. Moreover, a good PCR is need to move onto cloning, and then a miniprep can be prepared. The smallest error can destroy the data. After all this work, there is still only a small concentration of material to work with. Analyzing this data can make the work tedious.
The Cycad Apical Meristem: An Investigation of the Development and Lineage of Cycads
Description of Project Spencer first got involved in this projected because of a friend. At first, he didn’t really enjoy it but found it interesting after learning how to to use an Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). More and more people are starting to accept the fact that cycads should be reclassified but it has never been done. Spencer main objective of this project was to try and gather enough evidence to reclassify the cycad under seeded ferns. To do this, Spencer used an electron microscope to look at pictures of the apical meristem. He identified and analyzed these pictures to find distinct characters that could prove similarities to seeded ferns. His results showed some clearly defined images which might be able to provide evidence for cycad reclassification.
What personal benefits were gain from this project? Spencer had a lot of fun working on this project. He enjoyed working hands on dissecting the plants. He learned how to use an electron microscope that many will never have the chance to use. He though this was a cool project which helped him develop marketable skills to build his resume.
What were the main pitfalls or obstacles of the project? The main obstacle of this project was getting clear defined images. During Spencer’s experiment, he got few clear images which could be used for analysis. Most of the times, the electron microscope would give very bad pictures with no clarity. The images would be fuzzy rendering it useless to his data. He would then have to redo the dissection and take another image. Another problem was that this project got very boring. It was the same procedure and near the end, all he wanted was for it to be over.
Calibration Setup for Magnetic Probes
Description of Project: Graham worked on the Maryland Centrifugal Experiment trying to get a more accurate data collection of the MCX. To start out, Graham first solved a series of differential equations. Using the solutions, he build a capacitor bank using Excel to test and measure the magnetic probe output. After months of work, results show that output current is still too high. Although data so far are good, his main objective has not been met.
What personal benefits were gain from this project? This project allowed Graham to play around with circuits, which was what he always wanted to do. Further, he got to be involved in a real world experience. It is not a static experiment, but one which is ongoing and constantly changing.
What were the main pitfalls or obstacles of the project? The main obstacles were solving the differential equations. They were very complex and difficult to solve. He also had to learn how to set up the capacitor bank. Although it was fun, building the circuit was very hard since he had never worked with one before.
P.S. My camera ran out of battery and won't import the pictures to my computer. My recharger is at home, so a few picutres will be up by next week
Last modified: May 11, 2009