PC Blogs

Phage Phinale

Dearest Phage Phollowers,

lady science

Lady Science (from left to right: Ellen, Heloise, Nicole, Alicia)

 

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.

 

Nicole on left and Ellen on right in front of their SURF poster

Nicole (left) and Ellen (right) in front of their SURF poster

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

10502413_10154427101520144_439062590198268798_n

Alicia (left) and Heloise (right) in front of their poster at the SURF Conference

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 :)

photo-4

A very special visit from Kris Monahan

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!

coffee

 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:

10580656_998367386767_5537594672001570826_o

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.

alicia

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

 

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.

IMG_9242

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.

cornely

LadyScience on a bike trip to Block Island

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!

Pharewell,

Heloise

Phood for Phage

Hi everyone!

Since it was Providence Restaurant Week last week, I thought it would only be fitting to discuss the extraordinary restaurants around Providence College.

First, I apologize for my absence… I had a great vacation with my family but had to get back in the swing of things at work right away. I cannot believe that we are only two weeks away from the Poster Session at URI. We have achieved a great amount over the past 8 weeks and we have certainly learned a lot. One of my professor’s favorite quotes is, “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research!” So while we have been experimenting (and re-experimenting) in the lab, Lady Science has also been testing the delectable gastronomy of Providence.

Since the school year is pretty busy and my favorite meal is a Ray dining hall salad, I had not explored many of Providence’s delicious restaurants until this summer. There are so many great summer deals and here are a few that Lady Science has been lucky to take advantage of:

 

IMG_3977Dunkin Donuts Donut Day (how’s that for alliteration!)

On Friday, June 6th, Dunkin Donuts celebrates this day (with a free donut!) in support of military veterans. During World War 1, Salvation Army volunteers served coffee and doughnuts to soldiers on the battlefields of France. National Donut Day became official in 1938 as a way to raise awareness about the Salvation Army’s social service programs and to support military veterans.

 

Lasalle $1 Iced Coffee                                                                                                                       

Lady Science loves iced coffee so every Wednesday, we head over to Lasalle during our lunch break to indulge in a $1 iced coffee in flavor of our choosing. I was a huge fan of Snickerdoodle until I discovered their summer special, Coconut Creme, which could not be more refreshing on a hot summer day. Sadly, this $1 deal is only active in the summer… we made the mistake of going to Lasalle before the official start of summer on June 21st and were greatly disappointed!

IMG_5826

 

Providence Restaurant Week

Since I love celebrating things, I definitely wanted to take advantage of  Providence’s infamous Restaurant Week. For two weeks, the best restaurants in Providence offered fixed menus for lunch and dinner. Lady Science went out on a lunch date to Cassarino’s on Federal Hill, which was absolutely delicious. For only $15, we enjoyed a three course meal… we all chose different entrees which were equally amazing but we all finished off with a fan favorite tiramisu.

IMG_5876

 

La Creperie                                                  

On July 14th, Lady Science headed down to Thayer Street to La Creperie to celebrate Bastille Day! My entire family is French so even though I couldn’t be in France with them, I still wanted to celebrate! We got both dinner and dessert crepes which were incredible and did justice to true French crepes (even though no one can beat my mother’s!) It was very special to share this day with Lady Science. Vive la France!

 

½ priced lunch at the Abbey

The Abbey is a very popular burger place in walking distance of Providence College with enormous portion sizes. We are saving this deal until our last day of lab… it has been marked on our calendar so that we can celebrate our wonderful summer together with one last heavenly meal. It will be quite bittersweet!

 

College Night at Fire & Ice     IMG_4269                                                                               

Mondays are the place to be for all college students! For $10, you can eat all you want at Fire & Ice in the Providence Place Mall. They have a hibachi style setup where you can concoct your own dinner… and then go for seconds! I made a sweet & sour shrimp stirfry while Ellen made a delicious pizza with mozzarella, basil, and spinach. The possibilities are endless! They also have a great soup and salad bar. The only downfall? The ice cream bar is not included in the “all you can eat” price… but after our several helpings, we were too stuffed to care!

 

IMG_6183Slurpee Day                                                                                                                                                  

On July 11th, Lady Science took a trip to the mall and shopped until we dropped. To rejuvenate, we went on an adventure to find a 7Eleven for Free Slurpee Day (since it was 7/11) ! We made it to one near school just before the deal ended at 7 and were blissfully content with our free slurpees. I was surprised that they had such a range of flavors… I chose a twist of Pina Colada and Mango and it was perfect for the hot summer day! 

Big Tony’s All you can Eat Pizza                                                                                                                          

Apparently on Wednesdays, there is a special deal at the famous Pizzeria near Providence where you can eat all of the pizza you want for $8! Lady Science, unfortunately, has not had the hunger sufficient for such an endeavor… yet. Perhaps, maybe after a half marathon?

                                                         

AwfulAwful Mondays 

photo-2

photo-3

Every Monday is 2 for 1 milkshakes at Newport Creamery which is a short walk from Providence’s campus. I had never had an Awful Awful before but greatly enjoyed this “Awful Big, Awful Good” drink which is a decadent milkshake made with all things yummy. I chose a classic Oreo milkshake while my labmates tried out the ChocoNutter and the Coffee milkshakes. We went after a workout at Concannon Fitness Center and it was the best reward!                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

Dr. Wan’s Wings              

Dr. Wan, one of the professors who does research at PC, hosted a special barbecue for the research students. On the menu were his infamous chicken wings as well as a whole buffet of snacks and desserts. He truly is a grillmaster as he made the best chicken wings I have ever tasted. I enjoyed spending my lunch break with other research students and professors that I don’t normally eat lunch with… It was a great bonding experience. Thanks Dr. Wan!

Bs16MEDCEAANXzp

 

The summer is winding down quickly but Lady Science has definitely made it worthwhile! Hard work in the lab is always paired with a fun activity or a delicious meal. Lady Science clearly loves a good deal but it was truly the time spent together that made these outings special!

Stay tuned for more phage phun to come!

Heloise Dubois

 

Phage Phield Trip: Block Island

 

Buongiorno!

(I am going on a little family vacation to Italy so I have been practicing my Italian!)

IMG_4504

 

Lady Science has been working hard these days with our mycobacteriophages so when Dr. Cornely suggested a little field trip, we were more than delighted! When there were fewer summer research students (around 8), they would all go on a day trip to BI. Since there are over 40 research students now, it is a bit harder to plan around everyone’s lab schedule. Instead, we decided to go as a lab accompanied by Dr. Cornely, her husband (Mr. Dr. Cornely) who has a superb blog about different types of beer, and their charming 14 year-old son, Stephen. None of us had ever been to Block Island so we were super excited…


 

Until the morning of and an unpredicted monsoon (I’m exaggerating a little bit) hit us. We arrived at the Block Island ferry soaked and cold but we remained optimistic even though the forecast predicted dreariness for the whole day (we were all unprepared but the hot pink hoodie Nicole bought to keep her warm will be a nice souvenir!)

IMG_4391

 

We rented bikes from the Concannon Fitness Center which is an awesome resource if you want to bike around for a day… especially since it’s free! (a shameless plug for PC Pedals as a fellow Concannon Fitness employee) We started biking around the island and then stopped for a breathtaking view of the lighthouse. Cloudy skies could not diminish its beauty!

IMG_4411

On our way back, we stopped at Juice N’ Java to warm up with some delectable drinks… while Stephen chose hot chocolate, most of us ended up with a soothing cup of coffee (I recommend the Block Island Mocha Blend with Hazelnut). After a nice relaxing coffee break, we got back on our bikes to explore the rest of the island.

 

IMG_4445

At last, as we were biking, the sky finally cleared and the sun started to peak through the clouds. Just in time too, as we arrived to the Mohegan Bluffs which were just breathtaking (I will let the pictures speak for themselves!) We truly appreciated the sunlight after our gray morning. There were stacks of rocks all along the shore… so we decided to leave our mark by making one too!

IMG_4500

Believe it or not, this phield trip was actually phage related too! We scooped up four different soil samples from around the island to isolate some novel phages. Work hard, play hard seemed to be the motto of the day.

IMG_4521After we collected our soil samples, we headed back into town on our bikes… We were all a little winded. Though our IMG_4510spin classes prepared us, eighteen miles of uphills and downhills can be exhausting! Just in time to refuel with some good ole classic pizza (thanks to Stephen’s suggestion of a charming pizzeria). We enjoyed margherita pizzas and Del’s lemonade… a match made in heaven! Believe it or not, Alicia, Ellen and Nicole had never had Dell’s before so it was quite a treat.

 

Since we were so close to the ocean, we thought it would be a crime not to enjoy the water. After lunch, we went to the beach and despite arctic temperatures, we all dove in! We took the ferry back, exhausted from our biking and content with our adventures. We all had such a great time and are already thinking of making a trip back at some point this summer.

IMG_4525

Ciao Phage Phollowers!

Heloise

Phage Phavorites: Ellen Edition

 

Hi everyone!

IMG_4315I thought it would be fun to spotlight each member of the Lady Science and today’s interviewee is… (drumroll) Ellen Wheeler!

“Ellen… like Ellen DeGeneres. But funnier.”

Where are you from?

I’m from Bedford, New Hampshire and I rep the “Live Free or Die” motto.

Why did you choose to do summer research?

I was excited to spend my summer doing science instead of my previous summer job at Dunkin Donuts … although I’m still a very loyal customer. I wanted to gain lab experience and there’s not a better place to do it than at PC with one of my professors.

What Phages are you working on?

Phage Milton: I named him after my teddy bear… who was named after a character on Berenstein Bears

Phage JacquesPennet: (inside joke … she’s actually mocking me on how I call JCPenney when I want to be fancy)

What is your phavorite Pandora station?

I really like era 2000 Throwbacks … Showstopper in particular. And also Cheap Sunglasses. Perfect Summer Song.

Phavorite Quote?

“In order to get what you want you must do what you have never done.” And whatever Nicole says (another member of the lab).

Phavorite Phood?

Phree Phood

Phavorite Inspiration:

Myself

Phavorite Youtube Vid:
Promises-Dubstep. I tend to practice dubstep in my free time.

Phavorite saying:

YAAAS GAGA!

IMG_4317

There ya have the scoop on one of the funniest members of Lady Science. Thanks Ellen!

Until next time,

Heloise

Fueling Fun

Howdy Y’all,

(Sorry for the country intro… I’m preparing for Tim McGraw’s concert tonight!)

Yesterday, Lady Science decided to take a little break from lab and join URI for a little educational field trip called “The Alternative Fuel Day.” We drove down to hear a talk at URI entitled “Chemical Synthesis of Biofuels from Orthodox and Unorthodox Sources” by Dr. Brenton DeBoef. It was quite interesting (even though it was a brusque reminder of my orgo days) as it detailed how vegetable oil could be transformed into biodiesel for cheaper energy. For 2 years, URI converted its own waste from its dining halls into 500 gallons of biodiesel!


IMG_8672_optAfter talking about vegetable oils and french fries, my stomach started to grumble… Just in time for lunch at the beautiful Beavertail State Park. I absolutely love taking pictures of scenery and Beavertail did not disappoint! Here we had lunch and enjoyed the salty breeze from the ocean and waves.

 

IMG_8688

 

Due to space, URI no longer continues to make biodiesel but sends its waste to a company called Newport Biodiesel. A representative came to Beavertail and gave us a thorough explanation of the company and how it’s run. Newport Biodiesel actually collects waste from restaurants all over Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts and transforms it into biodiesel. A restaurant produces approximately 60 gallons of waste per month!

We got to see firsthand their industrial facility and how they turn restaurant waste into biodiesel. While the plant did not smell too great, it was amazing to see a relatively simple organic chemistry reaction on a much larger scale.

IMG_8689

After a productive and informational day, we headed back to our favorite campus (after a much needed Dunks run of course!). As I was filling up the tank of our sweet ride (cue Weird Al’s White and Nerdy), I couldn’t help but wonder how much cheaper it would be if I used biodiesel from grease to fill it up! The best part about science is that it makes you understand and question the simple things in daily life like… How did I get so white and nerdy?

IMG_8697_opt

PhageHunter Out,

Heloise

SURFing at PC

From right: Alicia, Ellen, Nicole, Heloise

From right: Alicia, Ellen, Nicole, Heloise

Hi everyone!

My name is Heloise Dubois and I am a rising junior here at Providence College… it’s hard to believe that I will be an upperclassmen! To gain some career experience, I gave up my usual summers of lifeguarding and visiting my family in France to do research here at Providence College. (It was a tough decision, believe me, but one that I know will be well worth it!) I accepted to be part of the SURF program (acronym for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows) that is pioneered by the University of Rhode Island. It is a ten week paid research program that ends with a poster session on our research findings on August 1st.

At Providence College, I will be working with Dr. Cornely on mycobacteriophages with three other students from Providence College: Nicole Cullen (rising sophomore), Ellen Wheeler (rising junior), and Alicia Jancevski (rising senior). Since we are all female, we have nicknamed our lab “Lady Science” after our favorite Lady Gaga parody which you can watch here (definitely worth a few laughs).

You might ask yourself… what in the world is a mycobacteriophage? In short, it is a virus that infects mycobacteria and can either kill the bacteria or inject its DNA into the bacteria’s genome. While there are many different mycobacteria, the two that are of particular interest as they affect human health are Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprosae which cause tuberculosis and leprosy. While our lab in AlMag are not equipped to deal with the potent tuberculosis, we are working with different mycobacteriophages and mycobacteriaPhoto 1 to add to the understanding of their nature and to assess their potential in phage therapy to eventually cure tuberculosis and leprosy.

Both Alicia and I participated in HHMI’s Science Education Alliance’s Phage Hunters program during our freshman year. It was a research-based biology course where we spent a year isolating our own phage and then annotated its genome. (If you’re interested in this program, the blog can be found here)

I have already completed two weeks of research and I am enjoying the experience thus far tremendously. I will most likely be posting a few times a week detailing what summer research truly entails! Stay tuned for all the fun from Lady Science!

Until next time,

Heloise

PC Blogs