SEA Currents: Woods Hole Partnership Education Program
August 07, 2017
Reflections & Farewells
During my freshman year at Howard University, I participated in a research-intensive honors laboratory, a PHAGES program, which ignited my interest in the field of microbiology. The objective of this course was to isolate, analyze, and characterize a bacteriophage from the environment. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, as well as replicate within the bacteria. This course enlightened me about the intricacies of how phages infect bacteria, what type of differences are in their genomes, and how phages could be used in a variety of biomedical, health, environmental, and ecological functions. That school year, I was introduced to various techniques in microbiology, molecular biology, and electron microscopy. This experience inspired me to search out opportunities that would allow me to delve further into the world of microbiology, and I was overjoyed when I was matched with Dr. Jessica Mark Welch at the Marine Biological Laboratory to work on the microbiome for this program.
Throughout the last six weeks, my mentor and I have been developing methods to use the imaging technique FISH (Fluorescence in situ Hybridization) on mucus-rich samples to capture viable images of microbial communities in the guts of marine organisms. This hands-on experience in the world of growing bacterial cultures and of applying FISH in the histological staining of gut sections has been exciting and rewarding. Over the past two weeks, I have also had the opportunity to attend the STAMPS (Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structure) course, in which microbiologists from all over the world come together to learn how to analyze their data sets by using futuristic programs and tools to obtain the best results. I have had the honor to learn from the best microbiologists, statisticians, and computer scientists, from across the globe, who all have a passion for advancing the field of metagenomics.
As my time as a PEP student comes to an end, I have been reflecting on my experiences. I have met amazing people, made some incredible friendships, and pushed myself to limits that I didn’t think were possible. This program has been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to share it with others!