May 26, 2024
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RKYHS Students Are Learning Science by Doing Science in Their Study of DNA

Last spring current junior Rebecca Weisberg was selected as a Waksman Student Scholar to participate in an intensive summer training program (WSSP) to learn molecular biological and bioinformatic techniques at the Waksman Institute for Microbiology on the Rutgers University Piscataway campus. Together with Biology teacher Ms. Suarez, Weisberg spent more than 100 hours working on an authentic research project in molecular biology and bioinformatics and was able to identify and analyze the DNA sequence of four genes isolated from Landoltia punctata, a duckweed important as a biofuel and in bioremediation. Weisberg was able to publish sequence data from four of her clones.

Throughout this school year, Suarez and Weisberg “brought it back” to RKYHS. Weisberg is a teaching assistant in the genetic engineering course and Suarez is running the DNA chug. The DNA chug students are participants in the 2016-2017 WSSP research project and are focusing on DNA sequence analysis of isolated Landoltia genes and how these genes compare to those found in other species. The students will isolate, sequence and analyze genes from a cDNA library (a collection of mRNAs copied into DNA’s). These sequences have never been determined before. After a student successfully analyzes a sequence, it will be published in GenBank, the international repository of known DNA sequences, for other scientists to study.

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