NARRATOR: The Bogdanove Lab, based at Cornell University, is collaborating with Doane University in Nebraska to bring undergraduate biology students into the lab to work on gene editing. The internship, funded through the National Science Foundation, helps young scientists grow their passion for research and discovery and gives them a role in producing science.
KAITLYN MANHKE: It's always been something that's important to me because science helps so many people. And I think that it's just really important for us to keep making different breakthroughs. Everybody just keeps pushing and trying their hardest and wanting to learn more. And I just-- I enjoy that aspect of science.
NARRATOR: The lab is using gene editing to investigate how plant breeders can make rice plants more tolerant to climate change and poor soil conditions.
KAITLYN MANHKE: So I wasn't as aware of agricultural research. I come from a place where agriculture is really big, so I understand the importance of it. I've learned so much since I've been here, and it's just really rewarding, I think.
ADAM BOGDANOVE: One of the important things for undergrads to understand, I think, is it gives them exposure so they can ask themselves, hey, would a career in scientific research be of interest to me? We thought that by working with Doane University, we'd have a unique opportunity to do this and to provide some undergraduate students with the experience.
NARRATOR: Kaitlyn, who hopes to enter the veterinary field, is a senior at Doane, and she's spending her summer working with the Bogdanove Lab to grow and test edited rice plants in hopes of finding ways to make gene editing more efficient and precise. The internship gives students practical, collaborative experience solving complex challenges.
KAITLYN MANHKE: I got here about five weeks ago, and I'll be here for another five weeks. So I'm about halfway through. What I'm working on is an edited rice plant. And we want to find a plant that has a gene that is altered in it. So we work with TAL effectors, And they're these type of proteins that bacteria secrete. And they're really harmful to the plant because they cause a lot of disease, which causes a lot of loss of crops. So if we can find a plant that has this gene altered that the protein is targeting, we can have less disease in the plants.
So all of these are the plants that I've been growing up, and we are sampling them. And all the ones that are colored are potential edits. And then we have these ones that are just the regular plant without any changes made to them at all.
So basically, what we're doing is we're trying to change a gene in the plant just a little bit so that the bacteria can't bind anymore. And then it will be less susceptible to the bacteria. So we want the plant to have a better chance in the field. And if we can change the gene just a little bit, the bacteria aren't able to bind and cause disease as much.
So we need an enzyme that will help extract the DNA out of the plant so that we can run a PCR later. And we need this in order to do that. After being in a research lab like this, I've thought about potentially being-- after going to vet school, doing vet research, just because I enjoy this type of work. So--
WOMAN: All right.
KAITLYN MANHKE: Yeah.
It's been really nice. I was a little bit nervous to come work with some people that I didn't know. But even when I have questions about things, everyone makes me feel OK to ask them, and they're really helpful. And they've been really helping me learn a lot.
ADAM BOGDANOVE: A lot of times, students come up through undergraduate with a strong interest in science, and their exposure to science has been through classrooms and structured labs, so classroom lecturing and structured labs. And so they haven't had as much hands-on experience in doing science, in carry on science, in creating new knowledge and making discoveries. And so one is sort of a conceptual understanding. The other is a real experience-based, practical understanding of how it works.
KAITLYN MANHKE: I personally would like to be a part of veterinary science and veterinary medicine once I graduate from undergrad. And I think that I would like to continue doing research. Just being a part of a program that is strongly supporting research for undergraduates is really awesome because not a lot of people know about this kind of research. I definitely, a few years ago, hadn't even known that this was an opportunity that I could have done.
ADAM BOGDANOVE: I think it's really important for students to take advantage of opportunities like this where they can. One of the goals that we had in mind, of course, was to bring bright young people into science and into science for their careers to do things that would integrate education and research.
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The Bogdanove Lab, based at Cornell University, is collaborating with Doane University in Nebraska to bring undergraduate biology students into the lab to work on gene editing. The internship, funded through the National Science Foundation, helps young scientists grow their passion for research and discovery and gives them a role in producing science.