Diversity in academia

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 …

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PCR - Photocopying Genes

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.

A short stretch of DNA that goes through 2 cycles of amplification ending up with 4 copies. 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 …

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Ethereal Expression

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.

Two sibling fish eggs sit next to each other, preparing to hatch in the coming days. Immediately after fertilization, the left egg was genetically modified so its cells would fluoresce red when they use a particular gene. All of the cells in …

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

The goal of gene cloning 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. Cloning genes allows us to easily and consistently retrieve the exact same copy and to share it between labs or even organisms.

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 …
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Genes, Phenotypes and Traits

We are constantly seeing both news articles as well as scientific publications on new genes - the new gene for intelligence, cancer or happiness. So lets start at the beginning by figuring out what a gene is. Simply, its a way to refer to inherited traits.

When a gene is identified as playing a role in a trait, this can be caused by basically two things - 1) different versions of a gene called an allele or 2) changes in how or where a gene is used. To understand how genes can give rise to different traits, we need to first understand how a gene functions.

Thus, lets look at how, in the simplest case, a trait like the color of a flower, can arise from a gene.

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