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Since 1993, the University of Texas System Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) has sought to increase the number of underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM careers). The alliance has also encouraged these individuals to earn Baccalaureate degrees and pursue a graduate education in the state of Texas through

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Operating as usual


Week 5

This past week we performed a couple of MRI scans on participants that have already taken the drug or placebo for a couple days. The study requires the participants to attend 3 visits, the first being the screening interview, then an MRI scan, and a final visit to complete a set of behavioral tasks. The past couple weeks we screened participants, so this week a few of them were ready to be scanned. The MRI scans are performed while participants are completing a set of memory and cognitive tasks inside the scanner, allowing us to get detailed images of their brains and analyze whether the drug or placebo had an effect on their brain activity. I really liked learning about the MRI scanning process and all the precautions that need to be taken when working in that environment. A big part of this process is knowing how to deal and talk to the participants given that they are inside the scanner for a long time and can sometimes cause them to feel sick or scared. That is why need to make sure they are alright and willing to keep going, so we communicate with them throughout the scan and let them know they can get out and leave whenever they want. Some of them get really uncomfortable inside the scanner, so you need to be very clear with the instructions at the beginning and know what to say once they are inside to help them calm down if they start freaking out. It’s a very interesting process and I’m very happy I got to experience it since these kinds of experiments and equipment are not very common or easily available back home.
This weekend I finally visited the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera, and I was amazed by how beautiful they are. The Bodleian is literally Harry Potter’s library and it really is as magical as it looks in the movie. I pretended I was a Hogwarts student for a couple hours and stayed there to read some articles. I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in there so I had to get one from google to include in this post :(. Definitely my favorite place in Oxford!!!


Week 5 update
First off, I am really excited to share that most of the Polymerase Chain Reactions I set up on week 4 worked! I was able to amplify the targeted gene in five different species that ranged from sea spiders, crustaceans, barnacles, and sea cucumbers. Thanks to these successful primer results I was able to initiate what is called “population genetics”.

My first step on population genetics was extracting DNA from a population. I used the 32 different tissue samples of deep sea organisms for DNA extraction, and I learned a very valuable lesson....Never do 32 DNA extractions at the same time. It took me five straight hours of nonstop micropipetting and centrifuging to do the 32 extractions. After I was done, I swear I felt my hand was going to fall off hahaha. When I told this to Dr.Rob, he laughed along with me and told me it’s never late to learn. The next step was setting PCR for all the extractions, which was less painful on my wrist, but definitely doable. I will not have the results for the PCR’s until week 6, but Dr.Rob said he is pretty confident almost all amplified.

Aside from this, Amanda and I continued transferring the Megafauna in diluted formalin to ethanol. This has been one of my favorite things to do because I get to wear full lab safety attire(including a breathing mask) and I get to handle the specimens! The rat tail fishes are my favorite to wash!

Also, I learned various things from parasites whose hosts are marine animals. Dr.Tammy dissected a parasite from a Munidopsis Crassa specimen and I got to help her with the identification. Fun fact: female parasites keep growing throughout their lifetime, while male parasites attach themselves to the females and remain dwarf sized(I got to see this). The coolest thing, though, was seeing a real example of a hyper parasite, which is a parasite within a parasite(three parasites attached like a chain). I never thought parasites would be so interesting!

Lastly, I ended the week by sitting with Dr.Rob while he designed primers for one of the barnacle species we could not amplify. I further learned about primers and the difference between universal primers and degenerate primers. Universal primers tend to be for model organisms and specific sequences, while degenerate primers are designed in accordance to a population of a species that can vary in some bases. By the end of the day, the primers had already been ordered.

For the weekend, I visited Bath, England and I cannot express how beautiful it is! The architecture is sooooo amazing! I got to visit the Roman Baths that were constructed by 75AD, and are currently one of the best preserved remains in Europe. I also got to see the Royal crescent, the Pulteney Bridge, and Bath Abbey. No picture does justice to how beautiful everything was.


Week 6 update:

This past week in the lab I kept working on participant recruitment and screening interviews. When I started my research this summer I had a wrong idea of how human research actually works and the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to have a successful project. I thought that it was similar to the biology projects I’ve previously worked on and that the more hours I spent working in the lab the more progress I would make. However, in human research, your progress depends almost exclusively on the volunteers. We have been trying many different recruitment techniques, but there are days that we don’t hear anything from anyone and there’s not much we can do about it. It can be frustrating, but I’m glad I’m experiencing it and learning all the positive and negative aspects of this field. I still like my project a lot and human research is something I definitely want to keep doing in the future, but I think it’s important to be aware of the not so exciting parts of this research. When there are no participants during the day I try to stay busy and read articles, help other researchers around the lab with their projects, or work in data entry. Hopefully this upcoming week I’ll be a bit busier and we’ll find more participants :)
I had a pretty well balanced week because although things were a bit slow in the lab, I got the chance to leave Oxford for a couple days and visit Scotland. I went to Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse Palace, the highlands, a couple museums, and even hiked Arthur’s seat one morning! It was a lot of fun and I completely fell in love with Scotland. This weekend I also visited the lavender fields outside of Oxford where we had a picnic and took some pretty cool pictures!


Week 6 update
Before I talk about the research I want to share something I was really excited about doing, which was visiting Stonehenge. This bizarre and interesting monument has existed for almost 5,000 years and it is something I have always watched documentaries on. To some people, they’re just stones. But to me, it is such a god like monument that still has people wondering how it came to be. Standing in front of the stones was such an indescribable feeling! I’m so happy I can say I’ve officially seen the stones❤️
Aside from that, we have had really good success rates with the universal primers we have been trying on deep sea specimens. First, I would like to say that before checking the gel, Dr.Rob taught me how to do PCR cleanup using a vacuum. Basically, the PCR product is added to the top of a filter, then the vacuum sucks up the PCR product through the filter while all DNA is getting attached to the filter. So then you end up with a dry filter to which you then add water, and because of polarity rules, the DNA is released from the filter to the water, and there you have your clean sequence. When we checked the gel, I was really excited because 18 out of the 23 PCR’s I set up worked, so I was able to send of a total of 23 PCR products to be sequenced which had a variety of 5 different species. For the rest of the week we kept collecting tissue from populations. By the end of Friday, I had 66 new tissue samples to start DNA testing on. Within those 66 samples, we had 6 new species we have not tried the primers on so I am really excited to start on that this week. Overall, I was really happy with the new techniques I learned this week, and the success we have had!


Week 4 update
As always, this week was filled with many enriching experiences. First off, I got introduced to eDNA and how it is currently being tested to perceive the accuracy of this method. eDNA is obtained from water and soil samples, then it is filtered through specifically designed columns/filters, and then the DNA is tested to try and have an insight of the kinds of species that have shed their DNA in that water/soil. I was allowed to view and help with a population PCR setup, and I was also allowed to view the results using the Gel Doc tool(which is a new tool for me since I am used to always viewing gels in the UV light tray). After that, I was introduced to PCR cleanup through the use of magnetic beads, which is one of the coolest molecular methods I have ever seen! Aside from this, I also helped with the transferring of Megafauna in diluted formalin to 80% ethanol in order to best conserve their tissue and DNA. This was a serious process so we had to take safety to a higher standard and used rubber gloves, breathing masks, and full lab coat attire. The best part was getting to see and handle the rat tail fishes, the loads of holothurians(psychropotes being my favorite one!), and a variety of deep sea jellyfish, and starfishes. Lastly, I am proud to say I have collected 43 tissue samples for molecular work from a variety of species! On Friday, I did nine DNA extractions from the tissue I collected, and began testing the primers by setting up PCR for the nine different species, and I will update the results next week.

Aside from lab work, I visited The Royal Pavilion and the Beach Pier in Brighton, England. I am incredibly amazed by the minds of the architects that designed this building and the hands of the workers who constructed it. It was simply beautiful and breathtaking.


Week 4
I’m halfway through the summer and I’ve been enjoying my time here so much! This past week I kept working in the project by trying to find more effective recruitment techniques since we're not getting a big response from the community to get involved in the project. Oxford students are usually the ones that take part in these kinds of studies, but since it's summer, many of them left town and only a couple people have signed up to participate. Even though we don’t have many screenings during the week, the grad student that I work with has been really nice and gives me the chance to fully participate in the few ones we've had. Last week I did a screening by myself and it felt really good to be trusted enough to interview a participant. I really enjoyed it and it felt like a great accomplishment that'll give me confidence to keep doing it.
On Saturday I visited London again and went to explore the city by myself. I was a little nervous when I first got there because I had to take the metro and try to visit all the places I wrote down in my itinerary, but the city is very tourist-friendly and I had no trouble going from place to place. I first visited the Borough market and had breakfast there. Then I went to the Tate Modern Museum which was very interesting and a lot of fun. There they had a temporary Picasso exhibition, and it was amazing to see all of his famous paintings in person. I also saw one of Monet’s Water Lilies, a couple of Salvadors Dali’s and Andy Warhol’s pieces, and finally went up to the rooftop to see the amazing view of London. Then I visited the Leadenhall market (where one of Harry Potter’s scenes was filmed), the National Gallery, and a very nice bookshop. At the National Gallery I saw paintings by da Vinci, Diego Velazquez, van Gogh, Michelangelo, and a few other extremely famous artists. It was an amazing weekend and I got to cross a couple things off my bucket list!


Hello everyone. Last week was my 7th week at Gurdons Institute of Cancer Research Cambridge. This week is my final research week and I am getting ready for my final presentation this Friday. It’s so sad 😞 my research is finally coming to an end however, I am very grateful for the knowledge and skills I have acquired💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾. I really love to do research and I can’t wait to start graduate school so that I can fully focus on research.
Last week, I collected more data from my results and I entered my results into an analyzing software called PRISM. I will be presenting my project to the entire lab this Friday. The mutants I studied model human mitochondrial encephalomyopathy and exhibit a stereotyped phenotypic progression that is highly reminiscent to the human disease condition. Through this research, we have a better understanding of the pathogenesis of mitochondrial encephalopathy , lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS Syndrome ).


Week 2 update:
This past week was fascinating and fulfilled of many enriching experiences. First off, I feel so accomplished having identified various specimens from the PAP Benthic Community. Identification and measurement for small and intricate organisms is not easy at all. This week I helped identify sea spiders, crustaceans, and Cirripedia(known as barnacles)! Identification is always guided by a scientific manual that holds very complex and detailed drawings of the species you are looking for. I was under the microscope measuring body parts in units of mm, which is a really lengthy process since everything has to be so specific. However, the best feeling of satisfaction was coming to the conclusion of what species the organism is and having the head nodding approval of my lab supervisor. Aside from this, the lab was also very busy since the annual Porcupine Abyssal Plain cruise arrived on Tuesday! There were so MANY incoming samples that had to be transferred to new jars with ethanol and then to the freezer to avoid DNA from degrading. I also got to help in sorting out the new specimens and organizing the new core sediment samples. The amount of different deep sea creatures I have seen within my two weeks here is crazy! I’ve seen a blob fish, an angler fish, a dumbo octopus, a rat tail fish, BEAUTIFUL deep sea corals, sea cucumbers, and many more organisms! Moreover, I also attended the National Oceanography Centre open day, in which I got to hear a talk from researchers on topics such as robotics, micro plastics, and climate change. The most impacting one was the micro plastic talk in which I learned that micro plastics have been found to puncture and collect inside crab cells. That’s how small yet invasive micro plastics can be!

Aside from the lab, I took time to visit the Riverside Park at Southampton and it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I saw white and black swans for the first time and I can’t express how majestic they look in real life!!! Pictures don’t do justice.

Overall, awesome week!


My second week in Oxford is over and it was full of great experiences!
I’ve been getting a lot of work done in lab and the days go by incredible fast. This lab is not like any other one I’ve previously worked in, given that their focus is human research and everything is done in the office or in clinical rooms. I have been dealing with the administrative processes that are needed to make a project successful, like approvals, ethics, and volunteer recruitment. It’s an aspect of research that I’d never experienced and it made me realize that not everything in this field is benchwork. I also started screening people that want to take part in the study and learned a lot about the interaction between researcher and participant, as well as how to determine whether someone is eligible or not. Everyone in lab is very friendly and they want me to be involved in every aspect of the project to make my experience positive and valuable.
This weekend I visited The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology in Oxford, which is huge and took me almost 3 hours to see. My favorite exhibition in the museum was the Cast Gallery, which shows a lot of ancient Roman and Greek casts. I also went back to the gelato place and tried two new flavors which, needles to say, were really good. The highlight of my week was definitely Mexico’s win in yesterday’s world cup game! I went out to watch it, met some people while I was there, and had a lot of fun!
Thanks to this I’m starting my 3rd week in a great mood and looking forward to have many more fun times!


Week 1-LSAMP 2018 Summer Abroad
Hi, my name is Alegria Martinez and I am a student at the University of Texas at Austin. I would like to introduce myself as someone who is incredibly fascinated by ocean processes and marine organisms. To think of the critical role the ocean plays on our weather and the complex organisms it serves as a habitat for, plus the fact marine plants supply approximately 2/3s of the oxygen we breathe in has overall heavily drawn me to Marine Science.
This past week was my first week at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England and I am so fascinated by the material and lab techniques I have learned. My overall summer project will consist in identifying as many species as possible brought to the Centre from their annual cruise to the Porcupine Abyssal Plain. Identification will come from measuring and observing every small morphological detail of the organism, and molecular information as well. Mostly, due to the fact my two prior years of research have been in a genetics lab, I will be doing molecular work such as DNA extraction, PCR, PRC clean up, barcoding a species by their DNA, and more DNA things!!! At the end, this research will give scientists an insight of how the benthic community has changed from their last year samples. The National Oceanography Centre has been collecting benthic organisms since 1925, so this long term data will serve to see how the benthic community has changed through the years and will raise questions as to what is affecting these organisms.
I absolutely admire the Doctors I have been learning from in the lab, which have made me feel so welcomed here. They are trying to teach me as much as they can. Thank you so much to LSAMP for providing the means for me to achieve my long desired goal of being at an Oceanography Centre. It is an opportunity I will be forever grateful for!


Hi everyone! My name is Andrea Enriquez and I’m a junior at The University of Texas at El Paso majoring in Biology. I am one of this year’s LSAMP SRA students conducting research at the University of Oxford. I am part of the Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Lab at the Department of Psychiatry, and I will be involved in a project studying the drug prucalopride and its effects on emotional processing.
One out of my eight weeks has gone by, during which I tried to get settled, learn background information about my project, and explore the city. People in my lab are great and I can tell they are very happy to have me here. There are no other undergraduates in the lab but my mentor and the grad students are always willing to offer their help and teach me what they know. They give me a lot of work to do because they really want me to be involved in the study, so the days go by pretty fast!
This week I met Christiana, who is part of this year’s cohort and is here at Oxford as well. We explored city centre together and visited some university buildings. The city is beautiful and I’m so glad I get to spend my summer here. I also found the best gelato shop ever, and I'm committed to try every single flavor before the summer ends.
That’s all for this past week, and I just hope that the days to come are as good as the ones I’ve had!


Hello everyone. My name is Michael Oladugba. I am a Junior at The University of Texas Arlington and I major in Biology. I am one of the 2018 summer research academy abroad participants and I am currently doing my research at Gurdon institute of cancer research, University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
I started my research about a week ago and it has been such an amazing experience. I really want to say a very big thank you to LSAMP for giving me such a lifetime opportunity.

Week one update:
Last week, I met my PI, my lab supervisor and other members of the lab. Super friendly people! I was also briefed on my research project and I feel very enthusiastic about what I will be doing for the next 8 weeks.
Due to my past research experience and fly pushing techniques, I was able to meet the need of the lab on my very first lab day. I helped collect some transgenic virgin fruit flies. I also isolated pure genomic DNA from Adult flies. I will be doing a lot of cloning , longevity tests, using CRISPR and mutagenesis for the next eight weeks.

Last weekend, I also visited London. I saw the London bridge and so many nice buildings. I plan to do a proper London tour before the end of my research.
On Sunday morning, I attended a local church in the city of Cambridge and I played the trumpet in the church, giving them a taste of American jazz/soul music. It was so amazing that I had someone ask me to lunch immediately after church ended.
I plan to give my entire lab a free concert before the end of my research. I look forward to the adventure and learning experience of this new week


Hello! Lizzie checking in :) {IST Austria. Mathematics. Week 6/8.}
-I've solved all (all? Can that really be?) of my computer problems and have been able to do some better analysis this week as a result.
-I managed to write a functional program in c++ (which is a language I'm not very familiar with).
-I learned a new word: floccinaucinihilipilification :)
-Outside of the mathsy sciency stuff, I explored frequently, both in the countryside and in Vienna proper, visited multiple museums and another palace and many other cool things. I also got to release my inner Julie Andrews spinning in a meadow. And I ate a prodigious amount of ice cream :)

All in all it was a lovely week.
Until next time, then!
Auf Wiedersehen!


Only two weeks left !
But this past week we wrapped up my recombineering which we didn't get the expected. We were hoping for something near 30% results. So this week I am going to try again but now since I have done it before I will be doing it with three different templates all of which have their own expected results and are unrelated to one another ! It will be a busy two weeks!

On another note had fun with Brittany Sandoval as we visited Amsterdam together :) and I had the best breakfast there ! The BEST ❤️


6th week at Imperial is complete!

We sent off of some samples to be DNA sequenced, and received back a report that told us our viral DNA was contaminated with DNA from the fungus that it lives in. This was a little disappointing, because it meant that a few weeks of the work I had done was now unhelpful. However, we knew exactly where to start again and are making good progress!

This week I didn't do much in the way of sightseeing, but I did get some free time on Friday to go through the Science Museum and watch Dunkirk in their IMAX theater! It was a really good movie, and was a fantastic experience to get to watch it in IMAX. Today (even though technically it's apart of week 7), Stephanie Cantu and I went to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. I was really surprised to see a lot of artists and paintings that I knew and really enjoyed. Best of all, I got to see my favorite painting by Claude Monet, that I've loved since my 1st grade art teacher had us attempt to replicate it! Below is a picture of the painting, and a picture of a beautiful day in Trafalgar Square!


Week 8: I am so thankful for the opportunity LSAMP has given me as I had so many amazing experiences while part of the program. Top left photo shows some of the members of my lab as well as my post doc Jorrit. He was an amazing supervisor and teacher. He taught me lab and analysis skills that will help me in the future, and more importantly, how to be comfortable being independent in lab. My last weekend in Europe I traveled to Amsterdam with Stephanie Cantu where we visited places like the Flower Market and Anne Frank's house. Walking through the annex where she hid for two years and learning more about her life was an experience I'll never forget. I had a hard time coming home due to canceled and delayed flights but, it gave me the opportunity to visit the Guggenheim and Met in NYC and so, not all unexpected set backs are bad... Now to get used to the Texas heat 🤞🏾



My fourth week at the lab has been great withore responsibilities such as feeding stem cells and inducing them to become neurons. Sterile techniques are important since they are not given antibiotics and can be easily infected.

This weekend I visited the Roman Baths, a social hub for influential people in the first century. The water from the hot springs has a taste one has to get used to!...But it is said to have cleansing properties.

I also went to the top of St Johns Church and learnt about the 1.7 ton bells and how church boys rung them. I wrapped up my trip with a walk around River Avon and an afternoon tea!


End of week 6: Wrapping up experiments this upcoming two weeks makes me feel sad that my time here is coming to an end. This past week we had some successes in lab and possibly got some data to suggest a relationship between a gene called HFQ- and our RTC system. It's awesome that we are getting positive results as recently we stopped pursuing the RTC-GFP portion of the project as no matter what we did, we couldn't get the construct to work. Currently we use a construct called RTC-Lacz to measure how much RTC A and B are being produced however, the cells can't be measured in real time. If the RTC-GFP reporter had worked, we would have been able to measure in real time and obtain clearer data. But, science doesn't always go the way you want it to and you just gotta roll with it.


This week I worked using pORTMAGE tool to allow me to make targeted changes in klebsiella oxytoca.
It could have gone better but we did manage to get some results out of it. With this information we get to adjust the concentrations and growth periods to produce desired results. These being white cells instead of blue indicating that our target change worked.

Not lab related had a good weekend visited Leeds castle , Canterbury , and Dover. And finally met up with all the ladies working hard here in London.


Greetings and salutations! {IST Austria; mathematics. Week 5/8.}
This week, I did a lot of
-and exploring.
It was both enjoyable and tiring!
I even managed to conquer those computer problems I was having. Unfortunately, now I am having different computer problems. Oh well. Gives me something to do, right?

Ta ta for now!


My fifth week in London is finished!

This week I did a lot of lab work, including growing more fungal cultures, cloning more plasmids, and getting good DNA sequences!

I also did some more sight seeing, and went to Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and saw the Cliffs of Dover. We didn't get to spend much time at all in Dover, like I originally thought we would, so I'm almost certain I'll go back to it! The picture with this post is my favorite one of Leeds Castle. I was pleasantly surprised with this castle, because it was fairly small compared to the others I've seen, and I didn't expect it to be so extravagant. It was very modern and elegant (for the 1930's interior), but also kept some of its renaissance charm. All the wood paneling, wooden beams on the ceilings, and even the stone in the walls and fireplaces were carved with beautiful designs. I was completely impressed and charmed by this awesome castle! I hope my sightseeing this weekend is just as exciting!


Week 1, June 12, 2017

Hallo Deutschland!!! Ich hoffe es geht allen gut!

First and foremost, thank you Texas LSAMP for all you've done for me these past 2 years such as providing me with this amazing opportunity to perform research abroad. I am forever grateful.
After 2 days in international airports I finally arrived to a fresh shower ......... and closed grocery stores ..... But it was worth it. At the airports, I met some of the most interesting people I've ever gotten the pleasure of meeting. Who would've guessed I'd miss the airport!? I think I'm going to start going to there more often. Also, a few days later the grocery stores opened again and everything was under control. The sleeping schedule however took a solid week to get a grip on and to be honest, I think it is still a work in progress and it's gonna stay that way my whole life.
My first week to have ever been on European soil has been unreal! I have already achieved my 4 main goals this summer; Meet great people and make friends, immerse myself in a challenging Molecular Biochemistry research project, eat delicious food, and play soccer with europeans. Check, check, check, and check. I look forward to expanding on those 4 things and doing plenty of other exciting things as well. Like getting lost.
Speaking of food.. the absence of a Dyer street full of McDonalds, Wendy's, Whataburger, Panda Express, etc blew my mind and I soon came to the realization that people don't feed themselves with that in my town. There are however tons of bakeries and grocery stores within minutes of anywhere in the city all stocked with fresh ingredients instead. Anyways, I look forward to journey ahead and I can't wait to discovering all the new things coming my way. Next week I'll talk a bit more about my research project but as a sneak peak, it involves filamentous fungi gene editing using good ol' CRISPR CAS 9 aka the future.

Bis zum nächsten Mal!


My third week was very good in the lab besides reading articles I had the chance to follow a master student in her experiments to see the effect of a compound on a mouse behavior. Also, I started learning how to analyze multi-unit activity in which we identified the neurons activity from all the noise, artefacts and any signal that could be record due to the sensitivity of the system. This week I will learn how to analyze single unit activity which means that from all the neural activity I will have to differentiate all the neurons involved.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to La Rambla that is a very touristic street in Barcelona. This street has many different types of restaurants and little places where they sell flowers. I was lucky because they have a festival where they sell tapas. Tapas here in Barcelona are little plates that you order to eat and share different things with the people that you are with. Also, I went to La Boqueria that is a very popular market that sells all kind of foods and spices.


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Final week update!

This past week I spent my last days at the PERL Lab in Oxford. The days went by faster than usual, and before I knew, it was Friday and I had to say goodbye to everyone. Most people in the lab were away the first three days of the week because they had to go to a conference, so I was left on my own to coordinate and complete all the participant interviews during those days. Human research is very strict, so even though it doesn’t seem like we got many participants, we actually made a lot of progress because the initial stages of the project are usually the most challenging ones. It takes a lot of effort and time to get a project up and running; we first need to find participants that are willing to participate, and then we have to clear them to make sure they are safe to take part in the study. During the summer we interviewed 20 participants, but only 12 people were elegible to take part. The project will need 50 participants to be completed, so it will take quite some time before it’s completely finished. I’m really glad I got to be there during this stage of the project because I learned what’s needed to start a project as well as how to prepare and comply with all the requirements. This summer I also got to help with a Parkinson’s project, and although I didn’t get much hands-on experience, I got to see the different tests that were performed on patients and the behavioral tasks they were given to measure their cognitive functions. Overall, it was a great summer because I not only learned a lot about the psychiatry field, but also about myself. Traveling and living abroad for two months can be scary and overwhelming, but it is totally worth it because it’s an experience that allows you to grow personally and academically. I want to thank LSAMP for the opportunity that they gave me this summer and for giving me the tools to achieve my dreams. I was given the freedom to choose my own lab based on my specific interests, and thanks to this, I enjoyed every day in the lab. I also got the chance to make life long friends and make connections at one of the most renowned universities in the world. It was an amazing summer and I will always be grateful for the opportunity and the support. Finally, I want to give a special thanks to Lynda for all the help. She prepared us for all the situations that we had to face this summer, and without her, this experience wouldn’t have been half as good as it was.
Week 8 update *Long final post*
I was not emotionally ready for my last week at the National Oceanography center. My lab PI’s were so welcoming since the beginning, and I have learned so much from them as individuals and educators all throughout my time here. I teared a bit when I was last thanking them for trusting me with their lab and their discovery collections. I have been so privileged to see and handle all the deep-sea creatures they collect. These animals come from depths at 4000 meters below sea level and are very rare to see in museums (never seen in aquariums). However, I had the grand privilege to touch so many of them, identify them, dissect them, and do DNA extractions from their tissue.
On my final week, I worked on something different concerning specimens. Sea stars had been the only specimens I had not yet done molecular work in, so I dedicated my final days to them. These creatures are rough to dissect because there is no tissue in them at all. I had to carefully take this really thin lining right below their exoskeleton to do molecular work on. At the end, I worked on an excel sheet that summarized my learning experience here and I was really surprised at the results.
Overall, I collected 154 tissue samples using sterile techniques, I did 105 DNA extractions, and I was able to amplify the targeted gene in 23 different samples. In addition, I also curated a collection from 1958 that had 208 amphipods, each of which had to be preserved in its individual way.
My lab Pi’s were really excited along with me because this was a huge step forward in trying to test universal primers that could be used for identifying a clear majority of deep-sea creatures. It is really complicated to just design one set of primers for an entire community, but it is possible to have a couple set of primers that could be used on most deep-sea animals. This would make genetic identification much easier for deep sea creatures, and this was the first stepping stone towards that. The primers we tested were having good success rates, and I hope it continues that way, even if I am not there to see it.
I would like to take the time to thank LSAMP for providing the means for me to do this. These past eight weeks have been so life changing in terms of growth as an individual and student. This experience was a reinforcement of how much I love research and marine science. I am so proud that I can now say I have genetics experience in both, a model organism and animal populations. Both have their pros and cons, but I greatly enjoy doing research in each. Now, more than ever, I am so excited to return to school and continue researching!!! THANK YOU LSAMP! This summer research abroad was such an impactful experience. I’ll leave you guys with one of my favorite quotes: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up.” – Stephen Hawking.
Week 7 update
Week 7 was almost all about holothurians. First, I collected tissues from Oneirophanta mutabilis and Molpadiodemas villosus.(30 samples total) However, when I tried to do the DNA extraction from the tissues, I ran into an unexpected problem. The tissue would dissolve but when I would transfer it to the filter, the liquid was gooey so it would clog the filter, thus DNA could no longer be obtained. Dr.Rob and I tried to trouble shoot what was wrong with the tissue and hypothesized that the defrosting of the holothurians could have influenced the amount of mucus inside the specimen.(This is why it is so important to keep specimens in ethanol and freezing temperature!) Because of this, Dr.Rob allowed me to use the holothurian samples he had kept in the freezer, which were 20 samples total that included 8 different species. The DNA extractions worked perfectly on these samples!

Aside from that, Dr.Rob taught me how to use a combination of primers to try and amplify a targeted gene. For instance, you can use a universal long primer and a specific species primer together. I tried four different combinations of primers total, & I am waiting on the results.

Lastly, I would like to talk about my weekend, which was pretty busy. Saturday was my birthday, so I went out to the city center and filled myself with so much food that I ended up stomach sick for the rest of the day. I should’ve known my small body cannot intake that amount of food😭Sunday, I tried to make up for the fact I did not fully enjoy my birthday so I took a spontaneous trip to the Isle of Wight. This island is very famous because Queen Victoria used to live here, and Charles Darwin did some of his work in this island.( the island is ranked as the 6th best place in the world for finding dinosaur remains.) I took a 20 minute ferry and arriving there made me so happy because of how beautiful this island is. It really feels like going back in time. Plus, its beach water is sooooo clear and you can view the cliffs from almost every corner. It’s a must visit place!
Week 7 Update

This week I was extremely busy in lab screening a lot of new participants that want to take part in out study. I was able to screen the volunteers and carry the entire interview process on my own, which was a little overwhelming at first but definitely helped me a lot. I also attended a couple talks in the department, in which they discussed topics regarding dementia, the mental health system, and some new computer programs that could help make research much more accesible to everyone. I learned a lot during these talks and it was really interesting to hear about all these topics in a perspective that’s different from the one they are usually discussed back home. I feel like this week, more than learning new things, I got the chance to practice what I’ve been learning the past couple months and polish my technique to deal with participants. I had a very productive week, during which I was able to make a lot of progress in the project as well as have some personal growth.
Outside of lab, I spent my last weekend in Oxford walking around the city center and getting souvenirs for my family and friends. I went back to the library on Saturday and spent most of the day there, trying to absorb all of its beauty and store it in my memory forever! I’m going to miss this place so much, but all I can do is enjoy my last week and make the best out of it! :)
Week 6 update
Before I talk about the research I want to share something I was really excited about doing, which was visiting Stonehenge. This bizarre and interesting monument has existed for almost 5,000 years and it is something I have always watched documentaries on. To some people, they’re just stones. But to me, it is such a god like monument that still has people wondering how it came to be. Standing in front of the stones was such an indescribable feeling! I’m so happy I can say I’ve officially seen the stones❤️
Aside from that, we have had really good success rates with the universal primers we have been trying on deep sea specimens. First, I would like to say that before checking the gel, Dr.Rob taught me how to do PCR cleanup using a vacuum. Basically, the PCR product is added to the top of a filter, then the vacuum sucks up the PCR product through the filter while all DNA is getting attached to the filter. So then you end up with a dry filter to which you then add water, and because of polarity rules, the DNA is released from the filter to the water, and there you have your clean sequence. When we checked the gel, I was really excited because 18 out of the 23 PCR’s I set up worked, so I was able to send of a total of 23 PCR products to be sequenced which had a variety of 5 different species. For the rest of the week we kept collecting tissue from populations. By the end of Friday, I had 66 new tissue samples to start DNA testing on. Within those 66 samples, we had 6 new species we have not tried the primers on so I am really excited to start on that this week. Overall, I was really happy with the new techniques I learned this week, and the success we have had!

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