Alex Keller received an URSA award for her project investigating pH changes in response to the soil microbiome. Now the greenhouse has another Drown experiment growing on its shelves! What will be next?
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
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.
I found out today that URSA has generously provided me funds to explore using the MinION nanopore sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) for undergraduate research. Funds from this proposal will facilitate independent undergraduate genomic research opportunities using bleeding edge technology and a simplified workflow. 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. This device can provide opportunities for student researchers to generate their own low cost DNA sequence data (as little as $500 / experiment). In the near future, the machine will allow for the direct acquisition of data from biological samples (including saliva and blood) without lengthy time consuming steps. There are current applications identifying viral pathogens in near real-time.
In the future, students will design their own independent research projects that integrates this technology. This resource could support projects that propose environmental microbial community profiling and bacterial or even eukaryotic whole genome sequencing to just name a few opportunities. Additionally, the equipment can be integrated into fieldwork (e.g. Toolik) or works at remote campuses. The proposed research presents an opportunity for undergraduates to learn the methods and techniques of collecting and analyzing genomic data using bleeding edge technology. By providing training in the methods of genomic analysis, we are better preparing future Alaskans to generate and interpret data in the genomics era.