Dearest Phage Phollowers,
It is with great sadness that Lady Science bids you farewell for the summer. The SURF research program is ten weeks long and ends conveniently with a month left before the start of school (time for some rest and relaxation!) On the last day of work, we assisted the long awaited 7th Annual RI SURF Conference. The Conference is basically a grownup science fair where every SURF student presents their work on posters. We were quite nervous but we had done a thorough practice run the day before in front of some PC faculty so we felt prepared.
Ellen and Nicole paired up to do a poster together since they had been working on the same project. They isolated their own phages from the soil around Providence College and named them: Cerulean (hence the color of their poster), SheldonCooper, Milton, and Penny. After purifying their phages, they isolated the DNA of each phage and sent it to be sequenced. They eventually determined through PCR the cluster of their phages as well. They also learned and practiced how to annotate a genome. It was a very successful but busy summer for these two!
Alicia and I paired up and did a poster together since we were doing similar research as well. Since we were both part of the PhageHunter course offered during our freshman year, we already had a background in mycobacteriophages and had already isolated our own phages. As a result, our project focused on the lysogenic lifestyle of the K cluster phages. ZoeJ, a K cluster phage, was isolated in the fall of 2012 here at Providence College and is of particular importance since it is genetically similar to TM4, one of the phages used directly in tuberculosis research. However, ZoeJ is peculiar because its genome has an integrase whereas TM4 does not. This integrase allows the phage to inject its DNA into the bacteria’s DNA instead of just directly killing the bacteria. Our project was to determine whether ZoeJ and Mufasa’s integrases were actually functional to form lysogens. After numerous different experiments and tests, especially through the PCR primers Alicia designed, we were able to conclude that both Mufasa and ZoeJ can form lysogens. Hooray!
It was extremely exciting to present the research we had been working so hard on with our friends, faculty and any curious onlookers who wanted to know about phage. A few fans of LadyScience stopped by our poster which was so touching…A very special shoutout to Kris Monahan, one of our biggest fans! It was great to meet you
After the poster session, we made a stop at Coffee Exchange on Wickenden St. in Providence to recharge and fuel our caffeine addiction. It was the greatest reward for a successful summer!
I have greatly enjoyed my summer here at Providence and it just would truly not have been the same with the spectacular crew of Lady Science:
First, a huge thank you Dr. Cornely for sharing your knowledge of and passion for science with all of us. Block Island is one of my favorite memories of the summer, all thanks to you and your wonderful family. I truly appreciated how supportive and patient you were with each one of us which made the lab atmosphere a place where we were encouraged to try new things and were never afraid to fail. Thank you again so much for your constant reminders about safety (I am going to miss my safety goggles), your additions to the quote wall (it’s an honor, I promise), your love for adventure (no more biking to Newport!) and most of all, your belief in each one of us.
To Alicia, our true mama bear, I can’t tell you how much I loved spending the summer with you. You always had the answers to all of our problems. I admire you so much for your intelligence and kindness, but most of all, your incredible humility. Your future is so bright… so rock those Jackie O sunglasses! Thank you for being such a great role model to Ellen, Nicole and me. We love you Mom!
Ellen, our lab would not have been filled with so much laughter without you. Your sense of humor and down-for-anything attitude added such a fun element to every day. I don’t think you missed one activity that SAIL put on for the research students. I can’t believe that we lived on the same floor freshman year but did not become close until we both became a part of Lady Science. Thank you for making all of us feel comfortable, for all of the fun, and for all of our heartfelt conversations.
Last but not least…. Nicole. You need to write a book of all of your subtlety hilarious quotes. For being a freshman, it was impressive how much you achieved in lab and how you truly cared about the work you were doing. Even if you often dropped things (salad, liquid nitrogen…etc.) or drove in braille, you were so dedicated to your research. Thank you for all of your side commentary, your ability to provide comic relief, and of course, all of the Dunkin Donuts’ muffins you brought in
I can’t wait to see you all in the fall. I miss you already! Phage4Life.
Also a great big thank you to Chris Machado for giving me the opportunity and teaching me how to blog… thanks for bearing with me, I am definitely still learning!
Thank you to anyone who has kept up with all the phun Lady Science has had this summer!