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Zebrafish, urchins, #44, and more: Adebola’s summer

Hello, my name is Adebola Owolabi and I am currently a student at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore and I am a part of the MCBGAP program at University of California, Davis. This summer, I had the opportunity of working in Bruce Draper’s lab. My research was on germline stem cells in zebrafish, with a focus on validating the nanos2 antibody in zebrafish gonads. Germline stem cells (GSCs) are essential in reproduction for many organisms. Previous research in male mice shows that an RNA binding protein, nanos2, is specific to GSCs, however, the function and localization of this protein expression in other vertebrates, especially females, is not well known. I used both purified and unpurified nanos2 protein made by Draper’s lab to test the hypothesis that Nanos2 protein is specifically expressed in germline stem cells in both zebrafish testis and ovary.

It was also amazing having UMES professor Dr. Tracy Bell visit to learn some new techniques in the Draper Lab. She’s focusing on the zebrafish kidney and got to do some in-situ hybridization while she was here.

The research has been incredible, and I have enjoyed both working in an incredible lab and exploring Davis. I was able to learn how to ride a bike in just three days and this has been an amazing skill to learn. MCBGAP and EEGAP students also took a field trip to the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, which was both fun-filled and educational. I got to hold a sea star and sea urchin in my hands. I have also been able to explore different food cuisines and tea shops. I also went down to San Francisco to see the amazing Golden Gate Bridge and visit the Wax Museum which was an incredible experience.

Most importantly, I have appreciated the knowledge I have acquired from my research, the awesome networking I have had during this time with other students and faculty and many of the professional development seminars in the program.

I would like to thank the MCBGAP program coordinators, Dr. Hom, Dr. Sean Burgees and Ms. Brenda who have been helpful all through this program. I will also like to thank Dr. Draper, my graduate mentor, Yulong Liu and every member of the Draper lab for all the great research that they are doing and for the amazing learning experience I received.

Thanks to the UC Davis community for an amazing summer experience!

Mari’s whirlwind summer

These last seven weeks have definitely been some to remember!

It seems as if just yesterday I was just flying into Sacramento, and now I am on my last week in Davis. UC Davis as well as all of the other UC’s are very well known for their research findings and their state of the art research facilities. It was an honor to be given the opportunity of a research internship at this university.

During my time here, I did research in the Trimmer lab in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. My research focused on a voltage-gated potassium channel known as Kv2.1. This was my first research opportunity in my collegiate career and I learned so many things. Some of my day-to-day work included culturing cells, plating cells with lipofectamine, performing transfections, and labelling proteins with antibodies. All of these contributed to my final research presentation which I will be giving this Friday. I learned the laboratory basics as well such as how to properly use a million-dollar microscope, how to properly use both automatic and manual pipettes. I learned how to handle both toxic and non-toxic chemicals, and I even learned how to autoclave equipment.
In my research lab, we had lab meetings with the entire lab once a week. The lab would be split in half and each half would have to rotate each week and present what they had been working on for the past two weeks. This was an amazing public speaking opportunity for me, as well as good insight on what everyone else in the lab was actually working on. I don’t remember a single negative moment in the lab. All of my lab members were very welcoming and polite. They treated as one of their own, and it will be sad to have to leave them at the end of this week.


In addition, I built many friendships with other HBCU students from all over the country. We have become sort of like a family. We spend most of our free time during the week together, and every weekend with them has been an adventure. We literally made a trip out of almost every weekend that we spent here in California. We have travelled to Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo, etc. We have tried out many different restaurants, gone to movies, explored different parties and clubs, and even went to the California State Fair.

I can’t forget the GAP program administration who made sure our weeks were never dull and empty. All of the activities, panels, discussions, and organized recreational activities that they planned for us really made this entire trip complete. I learned so much from professionals on how to improve my own skills to get into any graduate school that I desire. They helped us get a jumpstart on the different application materials and have provided beneficial feedback which is amazing.

This program was everything that I could have asked for and more. All of my experiences, both in and outside of the lab, I will forever be grateful for.

Jada’s lab (…and other…) shenanigans

My name is Jada English. I’m a junior from Houston, TX and a student at Xavier University of Louisiana. At UC Davis, I work in the Juliano lab where the animal Hydra vulgaris are the main focus. Hydra are animals that can easily regenerate, which means that if their heads or feet are severed, they can easily regrow that body part and continue living their normal lives. The exact mechanisms of regeneration are not quite understood.

My task this summer involved two related projects. First, I did what is called a knockdown experiment. In this experiment, I sever the foot of the hydra, then I inject SiRNA’s from different transcription factors, and finally, I give the hydra a low voltage electrical shock in hopes that the hydra will take up the RNA’s to create transgenic hydra. Ultimately we want to be able to determine which genes are required for proper regeneration. Thus, my second experiment involves 5 different genes: Jun, Fos, CEBP, CR3L and XPB1. With these 5 genes we hope to successfully clone each to further understand how regeneration is performed.

Besides lab shenanigans, I have been able to experience many cool aspects of Northern California.

  • On one Tuesday, we visited the Bodega Marine Lab where I learned about an endangered (and apparently, very delicious) species called white abalone. We took a hike through the preserve and saw some amazing views of the coast.
  • I’ve gone to the Davis Farmer’s Market, which has the best blackberries ever.
  • I spent a Saturday at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom where I rode every rollercoaster there and saw an amazing dolphin show. A few of us traveled up to Sacramento and went to the California State Fair. There, I ate the biggest turkey leg of my life and lost at every game attempted.
  • Perhaps my favorite adventure was going to San Francisco. There I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Fisherman’s Wharf and went to Chinatown. When the sun began to set, we drove through Golden Gate Park until we reached the beach and admired the view from the sand.

Besides these adventures, I enjoy spending time with my fellow program mates whether it be riding our bikes or just watching TV in the Kearney Hall lobby.





Trahmad and tomato virus research

So far UC Davis has been a blast. I’ve learned things that I didn’t know and got confirmation of other things that I already did. My research consists of determining whether organic agriculture can reduce the spread in tomatoes of a pathogenic plant virus called beet curly top virus, or BCTV for short. BCTV spreads primarily through an insect, the beet leafhopper. Now for farmers this is a great deal of choice as far as how the plant will be grown: conventionally or organically. It’s my job to go out into the field and answer the questions as to what would be best.

Image result for bctv tomatoes



Caylen’s microscope-eye view on her week at UC Davis

Tuskegee senior Caylen Goldsberry shares her week at UC Davis, with cameos by Lauren, Amade, Adebola, and a charismatic proboscidean.

A week in the life of a scientist: Imade Ojo

Imade Ojo, a senior biology major at Howard University, currently works with graduate student Allie Igwe in Dr. Rachel Vannette’s lab as part of the EEGAP program. Imade’s research focuses on serpentine soil, which is characterized by its notable low concentrations of calcium and nitrogen and heavy concentrations of nickel and magnesium. Imade is studying the differences in the functional potential between the microbial communities associated with the roots of serpentine-indifferent plants grown in serpentine or non-serpentine environments.

Last week included a group field trip in addition to a copious amount of lab work. On Tuesday, Imade and other students took a trip to the Bodega Marine Laboratory. They had a lot of fun learning about endangered white abalone and the research being done to restore the species. While at BML, they also took toured the surrounding preserve and observed the diverse natural landscapes characteristic of the Sonoma coast.

The rest of Imade’s week was filled with lab work aaannnnddd….bioinformatics! For the lab work, Imade is isolating microbes from serpentine and non-sepertine soil samples to compare and analyze the microbial communities. And she rapidly is adding lots of things to her bioinformatic toolbox. She is finishing up work with Mothur, which is an open source software package used for analysis of DNA. She later will analyze output from this tool with other software — PICRUSt, a program used to characterize evolutionary relationships, and STAMP, which researchers use to analyze metabolic profiles — to predict metagenomes from 16S RNA data generated from soil collection completed in 2016. 

mothur logo by Linda Wampach

So far, Imade has enjoyed her time in the lab and looks forward to learning more from Dr. Vannette and Allie.

Streptanthus and Lauren and abalone, oh my!

EEGAP student and Howard University junior Lauren Okafor enthuses about her research and a field trip to Bodega Marine Lab in this upbeat video. The field trip included opportunities to take a “shellfie” with a juvenile white abalone and BML researcher and “abalone mom” Kristin Aquilino.

Alumni update: Kevin Wickham

We recently caught up with Kevin Wickham, a member of the 2017 EEGAP cohort, during his 2018 summer research program at Stanford. Kevin has developed a project to examine the potential of media derived from placental cells for reducing aging of certain lines of human and mouse cells in culture. He hopes to continue this line of research in graduate school.

Keep in touch with us, Kevin!

Cycle city, USA!

Davis has been declared the safest city in the US for cyclists, as featured in a recent tweet by Chancellor Gary May. Our 2018 scholars have experienced Davis cycling for themselves since arrival, scooting around campus and town, as they dust off rusty cycling skills.

A check-in from Demario

MCBGAP and FAMU junior Demario Chappell is learning how to handle mice, UNIX, and R scripting in the Lasalle lab…and it’s only been one week!

Demario, in a relaxed moment at Dean Winey’s welcome gathering, shortly before others flipped the parrot over.