Hello, everyone! This one's from Cassie, class of 2012...
As the fall semester transitions into winter break, I am really glad to have found time to post to our IBH blog!
The presentations of the IB 270 Discovery Projects were given the week before finals, and they were all very impressive. First off, it was really comforting to know that people outside of our class came to see our presentations. A group of similarly interested people all gathering to see the culmination of our semester's work with the nematodeCaenorhabditis elegans really made the presentations fun to give. Since this was also a pizza party/presentation hybrid, it was double the fun! From the infection rate of pseudomonas in C. elegans to the chemotaxis of C. elegans in the presence of different alcohols, our Discovery Projects explored a whole range of interesting topics regarding the effects of RNA interference inC. elegans.
For the Discovery Projects, our lab groups had to develop a novel hypothesis regarding the effects of RNA Interference on a gene within the C. elegans genome. At the beginning of the semester, we researched scientific literature in order to formulate our hypotheses, methods, and expected results.Once we had created a solid proposal for the experiment, we started to see how our regular class labs were related to this independent project. With our Mendelian genetics lab, we learned the body morphology of C. elegans, their reproductive systems, and how to classify certain mutant phenotypes. Armed with our knowledge about these soil-dwelling organisms, we then moved onto a DNA lab where we learned molecular techniques such as PCR and DNA sequencing with the Sequencher program. After the completion of the RNA Interference Lab, we had successfully learned how to make NGM (nematode growth medium) plates and then seed those plates with bacteria. We then learned the intricate details of RNA Interference, and how it would be working to knock out the genes chosen for our respective Discovery Projects. These labs were crucial building blocks that guided our projects throughout the semester. Many thanks to Nick and Miranda (our teaching assistants) for preparing those labs for us, and to Professor Whitfield for teaching us everything about C. elegans, RNA Interference, and the research process!
I've never been through a class where everything culminates so fluidly to an important group project presentation. I really felt like I had invested the entire semester in this project. Not only was class time utilized, but time outside of class was a necessity for getting these projects done on time. All of us had the same common goal--to execute this experiment as best as we could, and that meant putting in a ton of extra time. This was perfectly fine with me considering all of the fun times that were had in NHB this semester.
It's the most gratifying feeling to know that all of our fun and hard work intertwined to fabricate our scientific aspirations into a tangible design. Plus, those presentations weren't so scary once I realized that we really were all in this together. I am sure that the rest of my class is as excited for the rest of what the IBH program has to offer for the upcoming semesters. From one semester alone, my outlook regarding a career in biology has evolved from a genuine interest into a sincere passion that I will undoubtedly follow for the rest of my life. With IB 270, we delved further into biological applications, previously unknown details of molecular biology, and a wealth of laboratory techniques. All of the knowledge gained from lecture, lab, our professor, teaching assistants, and each other accumulated into a reserve of inspiration to further explore the biological world. Joining IBH was the best decision that I made at UIUC so far, and I truly look forward to my future academic adventures with the program.
After a long winter break, here we come, IB 271!
IBH students travel the world, publish research papers, and do all sorts of amazing things