Biology Fun-damentals

Aug 03, 2018

Stickleback fish

Posted in:  ·  General  Science

Meet your typical stickleback dad. My research is based on understanding how genes contribute to his behavior.

A mostly blue fish above a fake aquarium plant that has a nest made of pebbles to the left of its base.

You can tell this is a male ready to become a dad because of his blue color. He also has red/orange color under his throat. Its only during the summer breeding season that he will look like this. Not all males will color up this brightly as it depends on a number of factors including the amount of light and the surrounding environment (gravel color). This particular male has improvised a nest ...

Read more…

Mar 02, 2018

Diversity in academia

Posted in:  ·  My Research

I have ADHD and dyslexia. It has taken me years to be comfortable openly talking about this. I think the most surprising thing to me was that the greatest obstacle was myself. Not only the ‘diversity community’ but the academic community as a whole have been very welcoming. Below are my thoughts and experiences but I realize that many have not been so fortunate as myself.

I think its important to talk openly about this. First, it helps us accept ourselves - both our strengths and weakness. Secondly, there are a lot of opportunities for those brave enough to identify themselves, especially those with non-apparent disabilities.

Read more…

Jun 10, 2017

PCR - Photocopying Genes

Posted in:  ·  Introductory

PCR is a common technique used to amplify specific regions of DNA. Put more simply, its a process that allows us to create copies of a piece of DNA. There are two main properties of PCR that we take advantage of - amplification (getting many copies) and isolation (of a single region).

If you understand the basic idea of photocopying, then you can understand PCR.

I should note that the role of PCR has changed over time and I will mostly be focusing on the current use. Additionally, there are several variants based off the standard PCR, including rt/qPCR, but those will be covered in a different post.

Why do a PCR?
Typically PCR is just a step to let us do something else with a gene or region of DNA. It is the first step in gene cloning or for things like gene editing. It can also be used ‘genotype’ an individual for a gene, i.e. figure out which specific copy of a gene someone has.

Read more…

Apr 06, 2017

Ethereal Expression

Posted in:  ·  Art  My Research

My image, Ethereal Expression, was included as a semi-finalist in the University of Illinois Image of Research (2017). The entries represented a diverse set of fields including Math (honorable mention) and Library and Information Science (winner). Its wonderful to see the variety of research here at the university!

Two stickleback eggs - the left egg is transgenic and glows red under UV light while its sibling is unaffected. Read more…

Aug 10, 2016

Gene Cloning: vectors, plasmids, ligations, and transformation - oh my!

What is the goal or what is gene cloning?
The goal is to get a single copy of the gene from an animal and into an archive. The rest is just the individual steps necessary to do this.

Step Description Biology Jargon
1     Get a copy of the gene from the animal PCR
2     Put the gene in an archival format Ligation into a plasmid
3     Make backup copies or archive it Bacterial transformation
4     Confirm that the copies match the original    Sequence the insert
5     Retrieve a copy to use Miniprep

What is a vector?
A vector is a small, self contained piece of DNA that can be added to an organism, typically bacteria.

Read more…
Next → Page 1 of 2