IRENE PARK: My name is Irene Park. I am a biology major in College of Arts and Sciences.
NISCHAY REGE: Hi, my name is Nischay Rege. I'm a currently rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
KATE ORLOFSKY: My name's Kate Orlofsky. I'm a senior animal science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
ALEXANDER LOOI: Hello, I'm Alex Looi and I'm a recent graduate of Cornell University.
KATHRYN BLACKLEY: I'm Kathryn Blackley. I'm going to be a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
CHINEDU ELEANYA: Hello, my name is Chinedu Eleanya. I'm a student at the College of Agriculture and Life Science here at Cornell.
ALESSANDRO BAILETTI: I'm Alessandro Bailetti. I was born in Peru and my family moved to Florida about seven years ago. I'm a transfer student. I went to Pensacola Junior College, and then I transferred to the College of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell two years ago.
Our research is focused on the development of the brain development of mature neurons. We are trained to look for the effects of one key gene in the neurogenesis pathway. In our lab, we use genetic manipulation to look for the effects of the [INAUDIBLE] 1 gene. We use histology staining, in situ hybridization, tissue culture, cell work, and tissue work. Right now, I'm working on [? Western ?] blocks from cells from the brain after being treated with different drugs.
KATE ORLOFSKY: My project is looking at the territorial interactions of male gray catbirds. Specifically, I'm looking at whether male gray catbirds use something called song type matching in those interactions. Song type matching occurs when a male responds with the same song that another male, be it his neighbor or some stranger in his territory, has previously sung. And song type matching is something that's important in other species that have relatively small song repertoires, such as song sparrows. And those sparrows sing about 12 songs, whereas catbirds sing upward of 500 songs. So I'm looking to see whether or not something like type matching is important in this species.
So what this is is a recording of one of my males in his territory. And what you're seeing here is called a spectrogram. So on this axis, we have the frequency, and then along this axis is the time. And so when the bird sings, we can see that it produces this frequency trace on the spectrogram. You can see it goes from higher to lower frequency here. And you can also see that the catbird can produce different notes at the same time, because we see this trace here and this trace down here, as well.
I could hear some type matches when I was out in the field. But I have yet to see whether or not type matching occurs at levels higher than we would expect due to chance.
CHINEDU ELEANYA: My research focuses on phage therapy. This means that we are trying to use viruses to combat bacterial infections. The disease my lab is currently focusing on is [? metritis. ?] It's an inflammatory disease in cows that just gave birth. It's usually caused by the buildup of several bacterial strains, such as E. coli and streptococcus.
For my current project, I am using 45 previously isolated virus strains in order to measure them to determine which is most able to combat E. coli infections. I am measuring these viruses for their resistance to a wide range of temperatures and pH. In addition to this, I'll also be sequencing their genome. With these data, I'm going to be looking through their genome maps to identify promoters, [? license ?] genes, essentially, the whole framework and package of the virus. This will enable us in the future to develop this super phage, which will be able to attack, [? analyze, ?] or destroy the E. coli much sooner than normal natural viruses can do.
ALEXANDER LOOI: Currently, I'm working in the [? Herschsun ?] lab, and I work on the chemostat project. And the chemostat project is a lab experimental project, where we study, specifically, predator-prey dynamics in a lab setting. I first joined the chemostat project working with a postdoc named Tepo [? Hiltunin. ?] And he's studying the predator-prey dynamics in three species [? chemostats. ?] And chemostats are these sterile glass vesicles with an inflow of medium and nutrients and outflow of dead things. And inside are these zooplankton and algae, which interact with each other. Basically eating each other or growing.
And I was one of the undergrads that was actually hired to help with this project. I've also done my own project, where I looked at a two species chemostat with algae and zooplankton known as a rotifer. And I studied the effect of abiotic factors on predator-prey dynamics.
KATHRYN BLACKLEY: Right here, I'm working on building a chemostat. I'm working on the chemostat project in the Harston lab this summer. I worked with some other undergraduates for the past year on a project that also used chemostats. And in the coming year, I'm going to be in the biology honors program, and I will have a separate project using some of the same organisms, but looking at some different questions.
I'm looking at the way that strong environmental change could cause an evolutionary change in the population and in zooplankton. So it's still in the preliminary stages right now, but what I'm hoping will be that I'll be able to put a strong environmental change, only a few individuals will survive it, and then I'll see if that works and if they're able to grow again in the new conditions.
IRENE PARK: The project I'm working with a bacterium species called pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato DC3000, DC300 for short. It's a bacteria that infects tomato plants, tobacco plants, and a mottled plant called arabidopsis And for this particular project, I'm trying to characterize some small RNAs, which are RNAs that don't get translated into protein but are involved in regulatory mechanism overall phenotype, such as under environmental stress, like salts, hydrogen peroxide, copper sulfate, and so on. And also, how the transcription of these small RNAs are regulated by these initiation factors called sigma factors. For the farmers. Because this lab is actually affiliated with the United States Department of Agriculture. Because the farmers grow tomato plants and stuff and these bacterium infect the tomato plants, so we'd like to study these bacteria for the farmers.
NISCHAY REGE: My current lab is the [? Voke ?] lab, where I've worked since the summer after my sophomore year, although I've been involved in various research projects since my freshman year.
Our lab researches retrovirology. Retroviruses are viruses that carry RNA and infect a host cell, the most famous of which is HIV, as many people may already have heard of. We work on the structural protein of the retrovirus, the rat sarcoma virus, which infects chickens. This protein is called gag. And this protein has the property of assembling in vitro, which is outside of a cell, without any other chemicals other than nucleic acid to help create a spherical shape.
I work on identifying various dimer interfaces within that structural protein. So dimer interfaces you can think of as when you have LEGOs, the parts of the LEGOs that fit together can be thought of as dimer interfaces. In this case, it's different proteins. And in this case, it's the same protein, the gag.
The first project was identifying the features that were found on the surface of the rat sarcoma virus by chromium tomography. So the particles form these spherical shapes that are visualized by the electron microscope. And these shapes are the image [INAUDIBLE], which is before the protease, which is another part of the gag protein. Has cut each of the domains of the gag protein apart. So we are hoping that a lot of these breakthroughs in retroviruses will eventually give us the information that can be applied to treating these diseases or finding a cure.
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Many biology undergraduates do research in faculty laboratories during the summer months. Hear about some of their projects.