First months in the CEEM program

My first few months in the CEEM program have been pretty interesting. I am working in Daniel Morse’s lab and I am working on a project where I am looking for certain proteins called reflectins. These proteins are involved in iridescence in the giant clam. Not much research has been done looking at the giant clams, but research has been done in the Morse lab looking at the iridescent properties in squid. The giant clam appears to have similar properties, therefore, I am trying to determine if the giant clam has the same reflectin proteins as the squid.

My first impressions of my research project was that it was going to be quite simple and I was almost expecting it to yield some positive results. However, I ended up running into a few challenges and receiving some results that were unexpected. In doing research, many problems often present themselves and it is very important to be patient and keep working to solve these problems in order to be able to achieve desired results. My mentor had me troubleshoot some parts of the experimental procedure in order to try to figure out what was going wrong. We ended up figuring out that too much of certain reagents were being used and these high amounts were exhausting the substrate that is used to produce the signal I am supposed to be getting as a result of my experiments.  I was getting very faint signals in my experiments and this troubleshooting helped me figure out why this was happening. It was very enlightening to be able to figure out what was going wrong and patience was a very important aspect of determining what was causing these problems.

Working in the lab has been both exciting and challenging so far. It has been interesting to work with a new species I have never worked with before, nor even really thought about before. The subject I am researching was new to me in the beginning but learning about it has made me so interested in it. I think that the research that is going on in the Morse lab is so exciting and new, I love the concept and want to keep doing research to learn even more about this species and its iridescent properties. It is exciting to think about how these properties of the giant clam could be used to make energy efficient materials in the future. Being part of the CEEM internship has allowed me to be immersed in a new subject area of research that I have not previously worked in before. I would definitely recommend for those interested in research to try out working in labs in different areas of study because it could open up a new path that you might not have know that you would be so interested in. 

The CEEM internship has been really great so far, I am excited to see what else is in store for the rest of the quarter.