By Lena Sauer
The past few weeks at Spark! Bioscience we have working hard to learn all the proper safety procedures for working in the lab along with actually exploring the labs to become familiarized with the layout and discovering all the new and advanced equipment that BRDG park has to offer. This past week we finally got to put all of our knowledge to the test as we created electrophoresis gels, also known as agarose gels, and put them into gel rigs to allow the liquid to form into the proper gel consistency. This is a basic lab skill used frequently in research lab when working with DNA samples although for our purposes with used them without DNA just to get used to the creation process. We then got to use our pipetting skills to add dye into small well plates throughout the gels and then connected our gel rigs to electrical charge to watch the dyes separate and move across the gel. It was exciting to actually be working inside a professional science lab and feel comfortable using the materials and equipment.
The next two days we got the opportunity to go next door to the Danforth Center and take part in their 2016 Fall symposium. At this symposium we had the opportunity to look at a multitude of posters explaining scientists’ research and findings regarding plants’ abilities to survive and thrive under certain conditions. We also had the opportunity to talk to the scientists and ask them questions about their studies and the conclusions they were able to create. After our gallery walk of posters, we got to listen to some more in depth presentations about specific researchers’ work. We first listened to David Braun, Ph.D., who discussed the topic of “Transporters controlling sucrose phloem loading in grasses.” He went over his methods of research and what he was able to learn from the outcomes of his experiments. The next presenter was Ben Trevaskis, Ph.D., who explained “The molecular networks controlling season flowering of wheat and barley.” Although most of the material discussed in these presentations was far more complex than anything we had ever heard or would be able to understand, it was still interesting to be exposed to these topics and listen to a formal scientific presentation. It was a very educational and experiential week for all of us over at Spark! Bioscience.