Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wicked Cool Summer Experience Part 3

Meet Erin

Year: Rising senior, class 2013
Major: Biology
Favorite Events: 1650, 500, 50 freestyle

Kevin: Why Whitman?

Erin: I chose Whitman after visiting the college with my cousin who graduated in 2009 and immediately loved it. The campus is beautiful and the science department is full of wonderful professors who are willing to work with each student to help them succeed.

Kevin: What does your summer look like?

Erin: I am spending my summer on the tiny island of Sanibel in southwest Florida working at the Sanibel Sea School (a small non-profit organization dedicated to educating young kids about the ocean and the biology associated with it) in addition to doing research.

Kevin: Sounds like a lot of fun! What are you researching?

Erin: My research is in plankton and artificial reefs. I am monitoring plankton communities between two locations to draw a correlation between plankton diversity and abundance and reef health. A new ship is being sunk as an artificial reef that may end up being a great research tool.

Kevin:  Sounds like a fun project. What else are you doing in Florida to keep busy?

Erin: I like to spend my free time exploring the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. My other job keeps me extra busy with kids and camp programs. On weekends I love to escape to nearby Bradenton and I hope to make it down to South Beach this summer.

Kevin: Sounds like a good way to spend the summer. What are your hopes moving forward with your research?

Erin: I am hoping that my research will get me somewhere and give me enough data to formulate a thesis. Maybe it will even save the ocean!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wicked cool summer experience part 2

Meet Genay

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Biology

Favorite Events: The 100 Breast (Current School Record Holder) and 200 Breast 

Kevin: First question. Why did you choose Whitman College?

Genay: I chose Whitman because in general, I wanted a small liberal arts
school.  Whitman was on my radar of small liberal arts schools because
I know a few people who graduated from here who had only good things
to say about the school.  So when I decided to transfer from UCLA, I looked
closer at Whitman and started talking to Jenn and to some students.
Everyone seemed genuinely interested in the subjects they were
studying and it seemed that everyone was here to enjoy the process of
education and not simply the end result of it, which is really
appealing to me.

Kevin: So where are you spending your summer?

Genay: I'm currently spending my summer in Cleveland, OH with an
internship in a lab in the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland

Kevin: That sounds really cool! What are you researching?

Genay: The research I am a part of is focused on the epigenetics of
obesity and diabetes and also of X-chromosome inactivation.
Epigenetics is basically the study of heritable changes in gene
expression, where the underlying DNA sequence is not altered, but
there are other modifications to the DNA (such as methylation or
histone modifications) that prevent specific genes from being
expressed.  Our lab is looking at the effects of obese mothers and
mothers on high fat-diets on their offspring's DNA methylation.  We
are using mice to model and look at the epigenetics of the mother and
her pups by scanning the genome of the mother and the genome of the
pups as well as placental cells (which are a mixture of the mother and
the pup) for DNA methylation.  We will then compare the methylation
patterns to see if they are inherited by the pups and also look for
methylation on regions of the genome that are known to be involved in
causing obesity and/or diabetes.

This research really excites me because the study of epigenetics is a
relatively new field, but as we continue to find out more about it, it
is becoming apparent that it is a very important field for
understanding phenotype and gene expression in many diseases.

Kevin: That really sounds like amazing research. What kinds of things are you doing with your free time outside of the lab?

Genay:  There's actually quite a bit to do in Cleveland.  I have been swimming and going to the gym before work on the weekdays and doing a variety of things on the weekends.  I've visited my grandpa and uncles a bit and this past weekend I went to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers!  Indians seats are cheap so baseball has provided a bit of entertainment.  Other than that, there's always the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and lots of good restaurants and nice parks.

Kevin: Very cool. One last question for you. What are you looking forward to most about next season?

Genay: Related to my internship, I'm actually looking forward to writing
my thesis!  I am excited to be able to use the research I complete
this summer for my thesis because it is a great opportunity to
understand epigenetics in more detail and learn more about how to
write up a professional scientific article.

Otherwise, I'm SO EXCITED for swimming!  I can't wait to see what I
can do and what the team as a whole will be able to do with all our
talent and STL.  I think that it's going to be a really great group
and that we're going to have a lot of fun together.  For that reason,
I'm especially looking forward to our travel meets.  They're great
because they're a nice excuse to get off campus for a few days with
some of my favorite people!  The best is obviously California which
will be amazing as always.