The first few weeks in the program have flown by swiftly. However, reflecting on the past few weeks has shown me how much I have learned. We are only halfway through, and I have grown much as a scientist and person! The program has taught me how to analyze data, work with fruit flies, and, most importantly…work through new and challenging situations through problem-solving! Critically thinking about a problem can offer a unique solution that may not be as obvious at first sight! Additionally, throughout the first few weeks, I have connected with the other TRIP professors and members, making meaningful friendships.
My interest in blue light prompted me to analyze the effect of long-term exposure to blue light on adult memory
My interest in blue light prompted me to analyze the effect of long-term exposure to blue light on adult memory. I plan to expose fruit flies to increasing amounts of blue light and quantify their memory through the Adult Memory Assay! The Adult Memory Assay consists of negative reinforcement tasks where the flies are exposed to one scent, which they associate with a negative action, and another scent, which they associate with a positive action. I am hopeful this experiment will be successful in the coming weeks and reveal something about the long-term effects of blue light. In the coming weeks, I will record data and perform my experiment! I will keep everyone updated! See you in a little.
This initial experiment was exciting to run. It was fascinating to perform the “Social Space Assay” which places fruit flies in small social chambers. The closer they are the more “sociable” they are and vice versa. Although presenting this information was a different story… Personally, I’ve never been the greatest presenter and that’s not something I’m ashamed of but I received helpful feedback to hopefully improve my presentation skills.
Other than that I finally get to create my own experiment. I’d say the hardest part was actually creating one, at first I really thought I had a great idea but it turns out that it wasn’t good enough. Luckily I was able to come up with something. As of lately I haven’t been able to fall asleep without the sound of my fan. This then led me to think about White Noise along with the different colors of noise. Different colors of noises have different properties ranging from frequencies to amplitude. This led me to wonder which sound would be the best for memory. In order to test their effectiveness I will perform the larval memory assay, where I would condition larvae to associate a smell with a sound. Then I would create two sides, one that is conditioned and the other not conditioned to see if the larvae remembered the sound. That’s just a barebone explanation of the assay but I just can’t wait to see the results!
Hi everybody! Sitting in the lab right now. Counting up some pupae. Loving this developmental data collection. I truly savor every moment in the lab: soaking up knowledge from the instructors, TAs, my labmates, and of course, the fruit flies.
After everyone’s amazing kick-off presentation, we got started on independent project brainstorming. To give some context for my decisions, note that I have hyperhidrosis in my hands, meaning that my palms are always sweaty. Smudged pen and damp papers have always been victims. Handshakes are my worst enemy. When consulting a doctor about my condition, I was prescribed an antiperspirant with aluminum compounds. The doctor was hesitant about this option, given the recent controversy of aluminum as a carcinogen. However, there are no non-aluminum antiperspirant solutions to palm hyperhidrosis, other than a botox injection! Aluminum compounds in deodorant and antiperspirants have spiked controversy due to the concern about it causing breast-cancer by increasing levels of estrogen.It is not just found in MY prescribed hand antiperspirant though. Although non-aluminum deodorants exist, many of the popular brands and aerosols used by people daily have high amounts of aluminum. Given this controversy, I want to research the long-term effects of aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants on female and male fertility.
I want to research the long-term effects of aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants on female and male fertility.
After discussing my project with Dr. Purdy, I grew even fonder of my research idea. We had to adjust many things but landed on a solid and feasible topic. According to our planning calculations, due to the flies' fast reproduction rate, I will be able to conduct an assay on two grandchildren! How cool is that?! This means I will have to be extremely organized in my processes so I do not accidentally mix up generations. I am most excited to see the results of this study as it directly impacts my health and many others. I am also excited to see my labmates' projects. I enjoy spending my Saturdays with them and look forward to hearing about their interesting independent research projects!
Hey again everyone! It's already Week 6 and I'm back to tell you all about how my kickoff experiment went! Lot's of new knowledge has flooded my brain but I'm lovin’ it! From staring at small, wriggling larvae to creating grape plates, I've learned so much in the short amount of time I've spent at TRIP. Ah right, the kickoff experiment! To recap, I looked into how Valerian and a high sugar diet affect fruit fly anxiety levels. I conducted the Open Field Test, an assay measuring fly distance traveled and amount of time spent near the center of assay, all in order to determine fruit fly anxiety levels.
From my results, all of the flies seemed to be really anxious. I guess that's what you get when you constantly hover over them and constantly knock them out! That's what practice is for, right? All in all, the kickoff experiment was loads of fun. It was definitely a challenging, and very rewarding, experience. It helped me to get more experience on my lab skills, such as pipetting and my ability to handle the fruit flies (we won't talk about the ones that escaped).
I wouldn't say that it's all set in stone yet, but I'll make sure that I fill you all in next time. Hopefully I can gather some delectable data! See you all in a bit!
Hey guys! A lot has happened since my last update! For starters, I completed and presented the kickoff experiment. I was testing how fenugreek and a high sugar diet affects female fertility. I learned that fenugreek increases female fertility by A LOT, about 5 embryos per fly to be more precise, and a high sugar diet decreases it. However, I learned so much more than that. I realized that I have to be really gentle when separating flies otherwise I accidentally decapitate them. I should also create a better system for counting flies. Also, I found that it’s important to learn what an embryo looks like, so you don’t mistake it for some yeast. As far as presentations went, I had the “fortunate” opportunity of going first in my group. Luckily, everyone was really supportive and asked me amazing questions about my project.
I’m considering studying the effects of turmeric powder on fly mobility
TRIP has been such an amazing experience so far, and I can’t wait to see where I go with my independent experiment. I’ll let you all know how my experiment works out, but for now I have to do some more math. Until next time, everyone!
Over the past 5 weeks, I've been thoroughly enjoying TRIP and eagerly looking forward to my Saturday mornings when I get to come into the TRIP lab. Working alongside Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, the TAs, and my fellow TRIP-mates has been an amazing experience. I've gained valuable skills in micropipetting liquids,sorting fruit flies, and running experiments over the past three weeks.
We are currently at the midpoint of our TRIP program, having completed 5 weeks, and it's been quite an eventful ride so far! Personally, I've been focused on my introductory project, exploring the impact of soap and vitamin D3 on fly motility. My study involved using vitamin D3, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, as the drug, and soap, which gives the flies intestinal inflammation, as the stressor. In order to test the effects of my drug and stressor I used the Negative Geotaxis assay. The Negative Geotaxis assay is a commonly used behavioral assay in which the ability of insects, such as fruit flies, to climb up a vial is measured. The assay involves placing a group of flies at the bottom of a vial or a narrow chamber and then gently tapping the flies to the bottom of the chamber. The flies will then try to climb up the chamber due to their innate negative geotaxis behavior. The assay is often used to assess the effects of genetic mutations, drugs, or environmental factors on fly behavior and can provide insights into various neurological and developmental processes. Through my Negative Geotaxis assay I learned that the effects of soap outweighed the anti-inflammatory effects of the Vitamin D3. I then presented my findings to my peers and learned a multitude of different techniques that can help me become a better presenter.
Additionally, I began working on developing my independent project. The idea that finally entranced me was studying the effects of amphetamines like Adderall on people who do not suffer from ADHD. It is important to test the effects of amphetamines on non-prescribed patients because amphetamines are a stimulant medication that potentially can be misused or abused by individuals seeking to enhance cognitive performance, increase energy levels, or lose weight. These medications have a high potential for addiction and can lead to adverse side effects, such as heart problems, sleep disturbances, and mood changes. Additionally, using amphetamines without a medical need can lead to dependence and may increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Therefore, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of these medications, particularly in individuals without ADHD, to prevent their misuse and ensure their safe and effective use in the treatment of ADHD. I am looking forward to setting up my experiment next week, and writing to you all again!
New Beginnings by Jackson Barlow
Following my testing and data analysis, I learned that melatonin has little effect on fly motility when it is paired with head trauma. In the positive realm, my data supported the idea that melatonin has a positive effect on control flies.
I will be testing...how caffeine affects cognitive function and memory
I could not be more excited about the upcoming weeks in which I will be conducting my independent research project. Originally, I had no clue what I wanted to study. Ideas flowed through my head such as continuing research into head trauma or branching off into a new realm of sleep deprivation, but after consideration from Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, and my peers, I branched off in a completely different direction -- cognitive function. My research question that I will be testing in the upcoming weeks is how caffeine affects cognitive function and memory. I will be testing the effects of caffeine on the flies by creating four vials and running a larval memory assay. Three of the vials will contain caffeine and one will be a control. The three vials with caffeine will have different levels of caffeine exposure. One vial will contain a dilute solution of the recommended daily consumption of caffeine (400 mg), the second being double the recommended daily consumption of caffeine, and the final vial will be triple the recommended daily consumption of caffeine.
By conducting this experiment, I hope to see if the daily consumption of caffeine that most teenagershave has an effect on their daily lives, specifically their memory. I hypothesize that the caffeine will have a negative effect on developing larval brains, leading to a decrease in memory and knowledge of their surroundings in the assay. ’ll be sure to keep you all posted! Thanks for reading!
Hello Everyone! The weeks have been flying by so quickly. It is great to meet new people during TRIP and connect with each other which helps make the program even better! I have recently finished my introductory experiment about how fly mood was affected by head trauma and rhodiola by using the social space assay. This experiment definitely made me feel much more comfortable in the TRIP lab and I improved my knowledge about how to run an experiment and make a slideshow presentation to share my findings with my peers. This experiment has also allowed me to improve my ability to analyze data and draw conclusions from this research. This has let me communicate with others about my research much more effectively. Also, learning how to properly cause head trauma in fruit flies was quite interesting (I did feel a little bad doing it though.)
The project I decided on doing for my independent research was how sleep deprivation caused by constant light and a high sugar diet can affect fruit flies' mood, specifically depression and sociality. I chose this topic because many of my friends along with myself constantly stay up very late and do not get enough sleep and it is of interest to see the possible effects of this on their mood and sociability. Also, the average American eats around 3 times the recommended amount per day of sugar, which is insane and I am interested in if sociality or depression can be affected by this. In order to do this experiment I will use the Social Space Assay and the Forced Swim Test which will let me learn a new way of testing depression in flies. I will continue this experiment next time in the lab by making a high sugar solution to add to my fly food along with sorting the 200 flies I need!
I am excited to learn the results of my experiment and cannot wait to share them with you.
Time Is Flying By! by Maegan Sojan
Welcome back! Last time you heard from me, we were just getting started on our kickoff experiments and finding our way around the lab! We are just heading into week six, and so much has happened since then. After learning how to sort the flies, I transferred them into the vials - where they would eat, sleep, and grow for the next seven days. The hardest part about sorting was not only identifying male and female flies but also doing so in fifteen minutes. I definitely may have over-drugged some of them, but I promise my fly-sorting skills have gotten much better since then!
I will be testing the effects of DNA methylation (caused by glyphosate - a herbicide) on female fertility.
Although the social space assay was fun, I’m ready to explore the other assays available. For my independent project, I will be testing the effects of DNA methylation (caused by glyphosate - a herbicide) on female fertility. Originally, I planned to use nitrogen dioxide instead of glyphosate as I was interested in studying the effects of air pollution on embryonic development. My neighborhood sits right next to a quarry and is surrounded with multiple power plants, emitting pollutants such as CO2, NO2, and SO2. For years, several of my neighbors raised issues about the long-term effects of exposure to toxic pollutants, so I was curious to test this out myself. However, using NO2 as my drug wasn’t feasible since it would’ve been difficult to determine a concentration that wouldn’t have killed the flies. Its odorless and colorless properties made this even harder! So, I opted to test the effects of glyphosate - the active ingredient in RoundUp - on female fertility instead. With Pennsylvania being an agricultural state, I was interested in testing the effects of the most commonly applied pesticide on developing youth. Finally, my project will also explore whether turmeric can counter the negative effects of DNA methylation. Since turmeric is a staple in my family’s dishes, I figured it would be an interesting drug to test.
I plan to conduct the female fertility assay on the P1 generation of flies as well as collecting developmental data about pupal eclosion. Hopefully this TRIP goes just as planned! Until next time…
How does Holy Basil and intestinal inflammation affect fruit fly mood? Five weeks ago, I had no idea what the answer to this question was or what Holy Basil even was. In these past few weeks of TRIP, I’ve learned all of that and so much more. I always knew I wanted to go into scientific research and my experiences with TRIP have just about confirmed that this is the right career for me! We started this internship by working on a kick-off project: a project meant to teach us about working in the lab and handling fruit flies. I worked with Holy Basil, which is a member of the mint family reported to have anti-inflammatory properties, and intestinal inflammation. To see the effects of this combination, I looked at fruit fly mood and analyzed my results. Now, you’d think that an anti-inflammatory drug would counteract the effects of inflammation, but there was no correlation shown in my results. While this wasn’t the result I was anticipating (and though some may even consider it a failure), I am just so happy to be running experiments on my own and learning all that I can!
“Does the consumption of BPA have an effect on fruit fly development and/or female fertility?”
Now that I’m all done with my kick-off experiment, now it is time for me to start my independent project. The hardest thing I think I’ve done so far in TRIP was pick a topic to research for my independent project. Though most people don’t mention this, seeing all the options available to me for different drugs and stressors and tests to run on the fruit flies was so overwhelming at first. Still, I was able to work through it and I’ve settled on my research question: “Does the consumption of BPA have an effect on fruit fly development and/or female fertility?” To understand why this question is important, you first have to understand what BPA is. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is commonly found in polycarbonate plastics, like the ones in plastic drinking cups and plastic takeout containers. Then, it leaches into your food and you eat it without ever knowing it was there. Though originally thought to be harmless, research now indicates that BPA might negatively affect female fertility. Recently, BPA was banned in the production of sippy cups and baby bottles, which made me start wondering just exactly how BPA affects human health.
As of now, I can only hypothesize what effects BPA will have on female fertility and development. It’s hard to believe that I’m going to be presenting this information to a crowd of people at the symposium in just about 2 months. Though I am nervous, I know that it’ll be here before I know it and I’ll be super prepared, with help from Dr. Lyestra and Dr. Purdy! I’ve already grown so much in the past five weeks & I can’t wait to see how much more I’ll have grown when TRIP is all over!