The beginning of this summer has been filled with agar plates!! When studying microbes, it is crucial to be able to cultivate and grow these little creatures in the lab. To do this, we fill small plastic dishes with a jelly solution full of nutrients. Each microbe has their own requirements as far as what nutrients or conditions they grow in, so every pathogen is a bit different!
For my Listeria monocytogenes studies, I utilize two main types of agar plates: sheep's blood or an Oxford antibiotic treated plate.
Blood agar plates are some of the best in my opinion! Most human pathogens can grow on these, so they are not selective, but they are consistent. These are used to determine quantity of infection in specific reproductive tissues in my studies.
The Oxford antibiotic treated plate has a chemical in the antibiotic that prevents *almost* everything except Listeria from growing. This is called a selective plate because it only allows our select microbe to grow!
I was so honored to be selected from a large pool of applicants to present my research and represent the graduate student population of UW-Madison at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 10th. We simply chatted with Wisconsin legislators and the legislators aides regarding science, and the importance of research. I provided small flyers as well as brought along my plush microbe of Listeria monocytognges! Graduate students such as myself urged our representatives on the importance of governmental funding for scientific development.
To read more about the event and check out additional photos, check out the button below to redirect you to the News Article written regarding the event. Look closely, and you might even see the back of my head in one of the pictures..
This Holiday season we surprised Dr. Golos (aka Ted, aka my PI, aka placenta researcher extraordinaire) with a "ugly" Christmas sweater!!
I had the idea to compose a placenta from felt with cheesy holiday accents & my coworkers sewed it together to become a reality!
I think it's safe to say he loves it..
As I begin 2019, I am also wrapping up my coursework and preparing to prelim for my graduate program.
For those not familiar, UW-Madison defines his step as:
"The preliminary examination is a significant milestone in a doctoral student’s academic career. It is given to assess knowledge of areas within the academic discipline. Passing of the preliminary area exam, obtaining approval of the minor if the major program requires it, and completing all the major course requirements culminate in admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree."
This semester in the lab I am focusing on analyzing preliminary bioinformatic microbial communities from 16S Sequencing of fecal sample obtained from pregnant primates. I am also collecting placental and decidual samples for later microbial analysis to determine the sterility or presence of bacterial communities in the reproductive tract. This is very exciting but also requires hours of coding and programming (Thank the Lord for Google Scholar & Github!) as well as generating images to represent the microbial communities in a view friendly manner.
On April 18th I will present my work in progress to my graduate program (Cellular & Molecular Pathology). Those interested in attending can email me for details.
P.S. Pictured below are the lovely women whom I share not only office and lab space with, but have become my family away from home.
In early October I had the joy of attending the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science national conference held in San Antonio, TX. Not only was it amazing to be back in the south in the land of queso and the word ya'll, but my family drove down to tour the city as well during my down time.
This conference was a bit different experience for me, as it was the first conference I attended as a recruiter for UW-Madison and my graduate program, Cellular & Molecular Pathology. I had a blast connecting with undergraduates intent on succeeding in graduate school and sharing my experiences during the application phase as well as during my time at UW-Madison. I even found a few McNair Scholars (including a fellow OU McNair alum Paul Delgado pictured below) with whom I was able to connect with. Minority/Diversity inclusion programs such as SACNAS, McNair, LSAMP, & more are programs which I believe strongly in and will continue to support as they teach students such as myself the lessons and skills to become competitive applicants for graduate programs. Without the support of my OU McNair Family during undergrad (& the continued support of my SciMed GRS cohort in grad school), I would not be where I am today. So thank you to Dr. Sophia Morren & my OU McNair family for your continued support and encouragement of my ambitious dreams! Fingers crossed I will see a few familiar faces interviewing with UW-Madison this spring!
At the end of September, I had the honor of traveling with a few scientists from my lab to visit Tokyo, Japan for the International Federation of Placenta Associations international conference! There I attended 4 days of seminars and workshops focusing on placental research in both clinical and research areas. I was selected to present a poster titled "Human endometrial epithelial cells resist Listeria monocytogenes infection in vitro against strains deficient in Internalin A, but not Internalin B". As you can tell, my poster was very stylized and a great representation of me as a scientist which I am very proud of! In addition, I am so honored to be chosen for an NIH New Investigator Travel Award to aid in covering the costs of attending the conference. Japan itself was an amazing experience! We ate much sushi and ramen, visited numerous temples and shrines, and toured a myriad of historical sites and museums!
It has been a hectic final few weeks of my first year of graduate school, but I am delighted to be posting some great news!
I was awarded a SACNAS Travel Award to attend the national STEM & Diversity Conference in San Antonia, TX this October!
Also, I was awarded an NIH Travel Award and my abstract was accepted to present at the 2018 International Federation of Placenta Associations in Tokyo, Japan in September!
And last but certainly not least, I am over the moon to announce that I was selected for TEAM Science R-25 Predoctoral Fellowship!!
Training, Education, And Mentoring in Science (TEAM-Science)
A NIH/NIGMS Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD)
With the addition of this fellowship to my SciMed GRS funding, I now have my stipend funded for the entire duration of my Ph D as well as generous support to attend even more conferences! This has been an incredible first year of graduate school, and I wrap up this spring semester and dig into my summer research I am optimistic about what the next year holds! Here's to no longer being a first year and all the hard work of applying for funding (& hearing many more rejections than acceptances) finally paying off!
Participating in volunteer and outreach events will always be something that I am highly passionate about. This past week I had the opportunity to practice some glow in the dark designs on agar plates of a fluorescent strain of bacteria! These examples will be used at a Wisconsin Science Discovery exhibit this weekend. Drawing with bacteria is like drawing with clear water and a cue-tip, so please pardon my elementary cat and flower!
The fall of my junior year I visited UW-Madison as part of the BioSciences Opportunities Program. That is where I first experienced what UW had to offer and how incredibly well rounded the city and community of Madison is. This program played a crucial role in my selecting UW-Madison for graduate school, but also put me in an advantageous position to be selected for a diversity based fellowship! If you're interested in pursuing your graduate degree at one of the best research universities in the world, I high suggest you apply!
I have finally updated my resume since beginning my graduate program and project within the Golos lab. I am preparing for a couple upcoming deadlines, one of which being an Abstract Submission for the International Federation of Placenta Associations conference which will be in Tokyo, Japan this fall! I plan to present RNAseq data in vitro infection of reproductive tissues on gene expression changes of some of the common virulent strains of Listeria monocytogenes.
My research has been a bit slow to get off the ground as I am consolidating years worth of fecal samples and outlining the animals and time points which will be most relevant for my microbiome studies. As always with spring break coming up and other studies arising, sometimes your thesis project has to take a back burner. I'm excited to analyze the RNA data and fingers crossed I'll be exploring Tokyo this fall!