MinION Hackathon

The Drown lab is at it again! The annual MinION Hackathon began on Sunday, and UAF graduate students, undergraduate students and friends were invited to use this revolutionary technology, sequencing DNA samples on their own.  Learning genomics can be fun, just ask the Hackathon participants and their “minion” accomplices.


Core Collection and Addition to the Drown Lab!

Alexandra Keller, a bright new mind to UAF, is the newest (and youngest) member of the Drown lab! On Thursday, Alex assisted with soil core collection at the Fairbanks Permafrost Experimental Station (FPES). It was her first time in the field and it will be her first time working in a greenhouse come the week of the pilot launch. Welcome, Alex!

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Greenhouse Grandeur

There is growth in the greenhouse! Blueberries and cranberries germinated. Now we are testing three nutrient poor soil treatments. Brace yourselves, the greenhouse pilot study is ready for take off!

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Permafrost Premonition

Given winter’s rapid approach, the permafrost experimental plots are getting special attention.  Preemptive vegetation surveying and soil core collections are propelling the Drown lab into a future greenhouse hibernation…and I am excited about it! Do you know what this means? Vegetation surveying, soil samples and an empty greenhouse? Sounds like a pilot study to me. Maybe come January,  this smiling face will be found working alongside the IAB Research Greenhouse coordinator, Mark Wright.

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Travel to Toolik (68° 38′ N, 149° 36′ W, AK)

On August 20th, Biology and Wildlife graduate students and researchers traveled to UAF’s Toolik Field Station for an awakening taste of arctic atmosphere. Devin and I used this nine hour road trip north of Fairbanks for investigation…in the 68th degree.

Some of UAF’s Biology and Wildlife graduate students and scientists pose at the Toolik Field Station welcome sign.

Toolik provided an opportunity to use the MinION sequencing capabilities in the field and sample for microbes on the North Slope.

Materials for soil extraction.
Materials for soil extraction.

Soil sampling and DNA sequencing with the MinION was supplemented with an abundance of scarlet alpine bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpina) and characteristically Alaskan Arctic beauty.

Hiking along the Atigun river outside of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

University of Alaska Biomedical Research Conference

MaddieAnastasia, and Devin attended the 9th annual University of Alaska Biomedical Research Conference (UA-BRC). For the undergraduates, this was their first research conference and they presented their work using the MinION nanopore sequencer to explore genomics. As you can see below, they drew a crowd to their poster.


This two-day conference showcased biomedical and One Health related research from graduate students, undergraduate students, researchers, and faculty through-out Alaska in the form of oral presentations and poster sessions. There were two workshops about career issues relevant to undergraduate and graduate student training including internship opportunities, STEM student recruitment, networking, entrepreneurship/innovation, and employer expectations.


URSA Research Day 2016

URSA Research Day 2016
URSA Research Day 2016

Undergraduate research activities at UAF cover a broad spectrum of disciplines, from climate science to life science, engineering to anthropology, and music to theater.  This year, Jackson Drew presented his URSA sponsored independent research project on the Alaska Soil Microbiome. The MinION Hackathon crew also presented their work using nanopore sequencing technology. Continue reading URSA Research Day 2016