Hello everyone! We are Amy Conte, Grace Grimaldi, and Colin Scano, biology and biochemistry majors who work in Dr. Cornely’s lab thanks to the funding of Walsh Fellowships and Undergraduate Research Award grants. We are excited to share our work on knocking out genes in viral DNA and constructing recombinant plasmids. We hope that our research will contribute to the growing field of phage therapy — a promising method that uses mutant phages to treat bacterial diseases, such as tuberculosis. Before we get into the science, we would like to focus our first post on introducing ourselves.
Colin: I am a senior biochemistry major at Providence College. In the rare times I am not studying, I like to fill my free time with friends, playing piano, and reading. This is my first summer doing research for Dr. Cornely, so I am very excited to complete our project.
Grace: I will be a senior this fall, and I am a biology major and a math minor. Elsewhere on campus, I’m on the club field hockey team. I’m so excited to be working this summer with Colin and Amy on creating mutant phages!
Amy: I am an upcoming senior biochemistry major/math minor from South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At PC, I am a research student, teaching assistant, the treasurer of Sigma Xi, and a volunteer for the StepUP mentoring program. Outside of doing schoolwork, I enjoy running, listening to music, traveling, and going to the beach.
We hope you check back throughout the summer to see what we’re up to!
Hello everyone! We are Amy Conte, Grace Grimaldi, and Colin Scano, biology and biochemistry majors who work in Dr. Cornely’s lab thanks to the funding of Walsh Fellowships and Undergraduate Research Award grants. We are excited to share our work on knocking out genes in viral DNA and constructing recombinant plasmids. We hope that our […]MORE
It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every day. Bianca, Matt, Gersham, Kyle, Yazan & I became so close that we all developed a special bond. We became so comfortable with each other that we would talk about anything. I would look forward to our lunch dates every day. We went to a lot of great restaurants Providence has to offer like The Abbey, Anthony’s, and many others on Thayer St., like East Side Pockets.
In the last few weeks of research, our biggest adventure was the 10th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Conference at the University of Rhode Island. The SURF program funds most of the research conducted over the summer throughout Rhode Island. In turn, researchers funded by SURF attend the conference and present their work. Our group presented our work by assembling a poster containing all the projects we worked on this summer. The conference was great because the team and I got to present all our hard work and got to see many other chemists, biologists, and biochemists. We were also hands-down the best dressed group at the conference! See the picture for yourself. We kept on receiving compliments from multiple people on how well dressed we were. It was nice to get dressed up and not wear sweatpants all day for once.
I am close to finishing my project which is a-carboline synthesis. I completed the final step of my project the day before the conference, and I produced high yields! Although summer research is over, that doesn’t mean my research is over. I plan on continuing my research in the fall. I’m looking forward to completing my project and all the chemistry that awaits me in the year to come! I’d like to thank Dr. Mulcahy and the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for granting me the opportunity do research this summer. I have learned a lot, and I can’t wait to continue learning in the upcoming semester. I’d also like thank all of you for reading my blog and keeping up with all the exciting events that happened this summer.
It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every […]MORE
We are officially halfway through our summer research! We have been having a lot of fun in the lab working with kindergarteners. Our study focuses on early science learning, and how best to teach it. Specifically, we are concentrating on light. We are having a blast shining flashlights under tables, looking into dark boxes for toys, and playing with lasers and baking soda (there may or may not be baking soda permanently mashed into the carpet). The kids have a great time, and the parents are happy for the free babysitting for half an hour.
Along with all the fun aspects of conducting research, we have also learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes work of what actually goes on. In Developmental Psychology research it is difficult to recruit participants, so we have been sending many emails, creating ads, and maintaining social media accounts (shameless plug: if you know any five year olds, please send them our way!). On days we don’t have children coming in, we are entering data into the computer, transferring videos, and coming up with new ways to test our hypothesis. One thing we have really learned is the importance of trial and error. At the moment, we are redesigning the study to better manipulate our intended variables.
In addition to our regular day to day work, last week we had the opportunity to do an Instagram takeover for the Friargram account. We were able to show people our lab, our favorite spots to eat lunch, and even a trip to Home Depot to buy supplies. It was a great way to show people what it is that we do, and hopefully show future student researchers what a fantastic opportunity it is.
For the upcoming weeks, we have several things to look forward to. Soon we will be bringing our study into a preschool! This will allow us to collect a lot of data in a short amount of time. However, it will also be difficult, and we need to make some modifications to the study to make sure it’s applicable (we have nightmares of five year olds running around shining lasers in each other’s eyes). Also, we are looking forward to the Annual RI SURF Conference. SURF, or the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, is a place where students can come together with other researchers and guests to share their summer work. We are excited to present what we are doing, and also see what other students are up to. Being involved in the sciences is a great way to learn through community.
Until next time!
The Kid Think Team
Hi friends! We are officially halfway through our summer research! We have been having a lot of fun in the lab working with kindergarteners. Our study focuses on early science learning, and how best to teach it. Specifically, we are concentrating on light. We are having a blast shining flashlights under tables, looking into dark […]MORE
It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who is from Jordan, asked us in lab one day “Is this how summer is here in Rhode Island?” We told him that the weather we experienced the first few weeks of research was very unusual, especially for May and June. We also told Yazan that New England weather is very unpredictable and to always be ready for anything.
I have completed my first five weeks of research and I feel like the time is flying by. I feel like 2017 is flying by, and I will be graduating in no time. Now that I am halfway done with summer research, I now have a good feel for the lab and I know where almost everything is. I run experiments on my own, and Dr. Mulcahy does not have to shadow everything I do anymore. It feels great to do the work on my own and to know that whenever I have questions Dr. Mulcahy, is around to help. In the remaining five weeks, I will be running completely new chemical reactions and doing completely new science. I’m excited to be doing new science and it is one of the many joys of research. Be on the lookout for some new chemistry coming your way soon!
On another note, there is a lot of construction happening on campus this summer, but the project I’m most excited about is the construction of the new science complex. When I walk to lab every day, I pass the construction site and see all the hard work being done. In fact, where my lab is located, I have a perfect view of all the construction that is happening to the science complex. However, it can be frustrating to work while there is construction. One time I was trying to weigh out one of my reagents for a reaction and I could not get a steady number for the weight. It was due to the construction workers who were taking out a sidewalk and causing the ground to shake. Then, one other time this summer the construction triggered the fire alarm and everyone had to evacuate the building. Minor things like that are not a big deal because when the science complex will be finished, it will all be worth it in the end. The science complex will open fall 2018 – the fall semester of my senior year. I’m looking forward to working in the new labs and doing work in the new complex.
Hello everyone, It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who […]MORE
For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies.
I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and I have finally adjusted to the time change. Being back in my favorite place in the world has me extremely grateful to Providence College and the Feinstein Institute for Public Service for the various research grants I have received and for choosing me to be the trip leader of the Global Service Learning trip.
Through the Global Service Learning trip, I will be taking part in a course at the University of Cape Town called “Social Infrastructures,” which includes various site visits and focuses on what it really means to engage with the local community in an intentional way. I took this course last year, and it introduced me to some of the most resilient communities I have ever encountered. I will also be spending an extra two weeks in Cape Town (one being this week before the group arrives and one after the group leaves to go back to the States) conducting two research projects. The first is with my adviser, Dr. Nick Longo, and the second will be alongside Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, a farmer and political activist at Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) – an agroecology site. I will be conducting interviews and focus groups to collect data in order to build a case for PHA to submit to the United Nations so that it can hopefully gain status as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems Site (GIAHS).
My first few days here have been full of lots of reading, research, and taking some time to become acquainted with this area of the city (since last year, I stayed a bit closer to the university). But, as much as I love to adventure around to coffee shops and take in the fresh (45 degree, YES, IT’S COLD HERE) air, this first week has to be full of research. As I sit in my room reading articles and taking notes on Philippi Horticultural Area, outside my window sits Lions Head – one of my favorite mountains in South Africa. Hiking is my number one favorite past time and although the mountains (one of my favorite parts about Cape Town) are calling me, I must do research. Being able to research in my favorite place reminds me of what a privilege it is to be a student of Providence College and the opportunities that have been provided to me by this institution.
Becoming a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System site (GIAHS) is not easy, and it requires a lot of support from not only the members of PHA, but also the City of Cape Town itself. One of the major reasons PHA desires to gain this status GIAHS is to have an international arm of support against City developers. PHA is a very special place because a little over a quarter of its surface area is a seasonal wetland. Through my research, I have found that it has a great history and heritage in agriculture. In the 1650’s the Khoi and San nomadic tribes would let their animals graze over this land, and in the 1850’s the Philippi Germans came and began agriculture here. They used various heritage techniques, one being no-till farming. However, during the apartheid state in South Africa thousands who were not considered to be “white” were forcibly relocated to this area known as the Cape Flats. This area became and still remains a place full of informal and formal settlements leaving less and less land for farming and greater food insecurity in Cape Town.
The land that remains (a little over 3,000 hectare) is the last of the land over the aquifer. This is important because this is what makes PHA so great for farming. The aquifer replenishes itself and allows over 4,000 farmers in Philippi to produce about 80% of the vegetables to the City of Cape Town, which is just about 200,000 tons of food. This is why PHA is known as the “breadbasket” of Cape Town. However, over the past few years developers have been attempting to gain permission to create housing developments on the remaining land over the aquifer. This is severely detrimental for a couple of reasons. First, it would deplete the only remaining land over the aquifer, which would not leave any land for agriculture. If no land is left for agriculture, the City would have to import vegetables and the prices would severely increase. Second, it would deplete livelihoods. This would cause more than 4,000 farmers to lose their jobs and their source of income.
Because of all of this, over 25 local organizations have formed the PHA Food and Farming Campaign against the City developers. The spokesperson of the campaign, Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, is who I am working alongside in this research. Although the PHA Food and Farming Campaign just recently had a large victory over the developers this past February/March by winning a court case against development, their battle is far from over.
This is where my research comes in. The interviews and focus groups I conduct will lead to data and narratives to be analyzed so that PHA can apply to be a GIAHS and hopefully gain status and increased protection against developers.
The end of this week will be filled with perusing through the South Africa National Library for important documents, going to the Cultural Heritage Museum, meeting on UCT’s campus with other researchers who have done work in Philippi, and forming more interview documents. This first preliminary week is all about setting the groundwork to propel me into researching alongside the activists and farmers in Philippi – so it is hard not to be excited. I am also preparing to do an Instagram and Snapchat takeover through PC’s @friargram account, so look out for details on that.
The rest of the PC group arrives on Sunday and then class, “Social Infrastructures,” will begin. I am really looking forward to class beginning and for the group to arrive! We will have an extremely packed schedule once class begins! I am quite busy but enjoy balancing all of these diverse roles!
Until next time! Sending a lot of love all the way from South Africa!
Hey everybody! For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies. I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and […]MORE