The Drown Lab has been awarded a two year grant to engage undergraduate researchers using new genomic technology to explore the Alaska soil microbiome. We’ll be traveling across the state and working with undergraduates using the latest Nanopore sequencing devices (MinIONs).
Devin is heading out to the Oxford Nanopore New York Community meeting this week to learn from the community as well as present on the Alaska MinION Hackathons. You can follow along with the action on Twitter below:
This week I got to check out the US Army Corps of Engineers’ research stomping grounds, also known as the Fairbanks Permafrost Experiment Station (FPES). Accompanied by my proficient permafrost guides, Jackson and Alex, I explored this unique study site. Together we drilled soil cores, slogged through the rain and battled prolific mosquitoes. Fun field days in Fairbanks!
Maddie, Anastasia, 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.
Devin and Jackson Drew headed down to Port Townsend, Washington for EVO-WIBO 2016, a gathering of evolutionary biologists of the Pacific Northwest. This regional evolution meeting provides an intimate meeting where researchers at all levels are welcome. One of the best things about the meetings is the lack of concurrent sessions. We all share the same experiences. The majority of talks are by graduate students and post docs. This time around the plenary talk was by Prof. Sarah Otto.
Undergraduate researcher Alex Wynne was recently awarded an URSA Summer Research Project. This includes funds for his project and a stipend for the summer. He’ll use next-generation sequencing to characterize the relative abundances of methanogens and methane oxidizers found within a permafrost thaw gradient. By analyzing the relative amount of methane related microbes associated with each disturbance treatment, he will deduce how the thawing of permafrost may contribute to the net amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
Thanks to the efforts of Ian Herriot who initiated the application to the Oxford Nanopore MinION Access programme (MAP), we have acquired access to a new nanopore sequencer (pictured above). The MinION at just 87 grams and half the size of an iPhone is so portable that it will visit the International Space Station as a proof of concept in remote collection of DNA sequence data. Working in collaboration with the IAB DNA Core Lab, the Drown lab will begin experimenting with this technology in the near future and expand access to potential undergraduate researchers in Spring 2016. This device can provide opportunities for student researchers to generate their own low cost DNA sequence data (as little as $500 / experiment).