These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of training, hands-on research, and team building. After becoming familiar with the lab in which I will be doing my research, I was able to gain some experience with the myriad of equipment that I will be using through hands-on training. The bulk of my research will be dedicated to DNA barcoding of Nemertean ribbon worms (a phylum of marine worms in which many species are undescribed). While I may to refer to this as “my research,” I am working closely with a dedicated team of graduate students that are attending at OIMB, as well as my mentor, Svetlana Maslakova. The support and training that they have provided so far is invaluable.
To become familiar with the processes involved, I was provided with specimens, both live and preserved, in which to work with. The first process involved extracting DNA from the specimens, after which the DNA had to be amplified using polymerase chain reaction. Following amplification of the DNA, we then verified our samples using gel electrophoresis. Once the samples were verified, we then purified and quantified the samples in order to ensure there were adequate quantities to send off for sequencing.
While this all may sound very technical, my time in the program so far has not been all work and no play. Along with the research that we are doing in the lab, we have also spent time out in the field collecting specimens and learning about the broad spectrum of organisms that reside in the local intertidal areas. In the lab, we have also started cultures of some of these in order to observe fertilization and larval stages. Some of the species that we have cultured include Pateria miniata (bat stars), Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (purple sea urchins), Phoronopsis harmeri (horseshoe worms), and Maculaura alaskensis (ribbon worms). As a team, we have also gone on camping trips locally, enjoyed some downtime with a picnic at the beach, and have a dredging trip planned for this weekend on OIMB’s research vessel, the Pluteus. Look for details of this trip in next week’s blog!
My name is Becky, and I have been local to the Coos Bay and Charleston area for two years with my boyfriend David, and my dog Mojo. I moved to this area to complete my associate's degree at Southwestern Oregon Community College in anticipation of transferring to a four-year university. I now attend online at Oregon State University and I am planning a move to Bend, OR in August to continue at the OSU Cascades campus in order to finish my bachelor's degree in either natural resources or biology.