Undergraduate research symposium

Our undergraduate students participated in a research symposium this week, hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO).  The CURO folks give lots of outstanding support for undergrad research and the symposium was really amazing.  >500 students presented their research through a huge poster session and two days of talks.  It was really great to hear such a wide variety of excellent research (from the sciences, but also the humanities, on policy topics, etc.).  I was deeply impressed and proud of our UGA students and I was also inspired by all of the excellent faculty who support them in their research endeavors.

Christian, Lauren, and Yamini presented their work on planarian regeneration, creating posters of their results and preparing short oral presentations to go along with the posters.  They have been in the lab for the Spring semester, so they created posters from their 3 months with me.  Great first showing for the R-G lab at our first CURO symposium!


Upcoming meetings!

We are really looking forward to two upcoming meetings:

The Southeast Regional Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology will be held on the campus of UGA from May 23-25.


The International Planarian Meeting will be held at the Morgridge Institute (Madison, WI)—hosted by the Newmark lab (and organized by Melanie Issigonis, Jochen Rink & Phil)—on July 16-20.


Hope to see you there!

Spring 2018

Whew!  It's been a busy few months!  We have gone from a lab of 1 to a lab of 6, which has been an exciting and fun change (for me!).  We have lots of exciting projects getting off the ground, so stay tuned!  Here's a list of some highlights from the past few months:

1) We welcomed Britessia, our new lab technician.  She has been a really welcome addition to the lab, taking over some lab maintenance tasks (chemical tracking, feeding animals, making salts, etc.) and learning the ropes of our experiments and model.  She is working on a screen and getting some beautiful in situs already.  She brought in some planarians from the pet store this week (Dugesia japonica or Dugesia dorotocephala).  So cute with their auricles that look like Yoda!

2) We launched our lab meeting, with a mixture of journal club and research presentations.  Jennifer (graduate student) kicked off the official line-up and did a great job explaining a paper at a level that was fun for me and also very informative for the undergraduate students.

3) All three undergrads have grown a lot this semester, learning to keep lab notebooks and getting some experiments underway.  They have each made some progress on their projects and are currently preparing their posters for the CURO (Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities) symposium, to be held next week.  

4) I have been writing some grant applications on new topics, which has been super fun!

5) I have gotten to know some colleagues better and found a writing buddy in a new faculty member in Chemistry.

See below: 1) Photo of our guest from the pet shop (courtesy of Britessia).  2 & 3) Our model planarian Schmidtea mediterranea before amputation and after regeneration.  4-6) Some pretty in situ experiments performed by our undergraduates Yamini and Lauren, showing some peripharyngeal secretory cells, stem cells, and the nervous system.  7 & 8) Some close-up images of the many eyes on our land planarian pets (Bipalium kewense).

Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year with a lot of changes in the R-G lab.  We have our first graduate student, the brave and talented Jennifer Jenkins, who joined us from the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences program.  She will be getting her Ph.D. in the Cellular Biology department.  She and the other rotation student in the lab during the fall, Theresa Melendez, were able to get molecular biology, RNAi, and in situ hybridizations working in the lab during their rotation.  I'm so excited to have Jennifer join the lab and get us going science-wise!

I hired a technician, Britessia, who will be joining the lab later in January.  She has a degree in neuroscience and several years of experience as a technician.  I anticipate that she will be a valuable asset to our group. 

We also had three eager undergraduates join the lab this month: Yamini, Lauren, and Christian.  They'll be working on a couple of different projects and getting their hands wet with the planarians.  They are getting CURO (Center for Undergrad Research Opportunities) research credit for their time in the lab and will present their work at a symposium later in the Spring.

Lab construction is almost done.  I just need to get the fume hood certified and find someone to hang up my dry erase board.  I ordered the last of the big equipment (a Zeiss stereoscope for all of our sub-confocal imaging).  So we'll soon be fully operational.  My parents visited the lab and my mom asked for a picture in front of the gel doc; apparently she thought that this item was the most impressive looking piece of equipment that she saw.  My dad (who was also my high school Bio teacher and the person who introduced me to planarians) visited and gifted the lab with a toolbox and set of tools.  

Lots more to do on the grant/paper front in the coming year.  We'll also have additional undergraduates join us in the summer.  I appreciate all the help from folks at UGA and elsewhere as our lab has started its journey!

Happy science in 2018!



Science happening!

The past 2 weeks have been steps forward and backward in the R-G lab.  We are mostly moved in and have been able to start caring for the planarians in the lab (rather than my basement).  We have started to make solutions.

I also have two brave rotation students (Theresa and Jen) with whom I will be trying some cloning, RNAi, and in situ experiments in the coming weeks.  Fingers crossed!

I also posted a job for a lab technician.  So fingers crossed for that, too!

In more frustrating events, my fume hood installation required the removal of 1 door, 1 eye wash station, and 1 cabinet (to fit the hood through the lab).  We have a clogged sink (again) and my desk is the messiest it has ever been in my whole life!  Looking forward to continuing to settle in for the coming weeks.