The past few weeks really flew (pun intended) in the blink of an eye. When I last wrote to you all, I was explaining how I finally decided on studying the effects of Coca-Cola and Coke Zero on developmental memory. This is a topic that I am particularly passionate about because I am very interested in nutrition as well as how certain foods and beverages alter brain chemistry. Reading about the possible impacts of Coca-Cola products on memory made this project an easy pick for me. Now that I have my question, “Can consumption of Coca-Cola and Coke Zero impact developmental cognition?”, the next step was figuring out how to possibly find an answer. I decided to use the memory assay in order to gauge developmental memory. In order to complete the assay, the first thing I had to do was isolate 10 3rd instar larvae from their food. Next, I set up three petri dishes . One dish had sugar and was grape scented. Since the larvae really enjoy eating at this point in their lives, they learned to associate the scent of grape with food and therefore a positive reward. The second dish contained no sugar and had a watermelon scent. Because the larvae were deprived of food in the watermelon scented petri dish, they associated the scent with a negative reward. I alternated which dish the larvae were placed in a total of 6 times in 5 minute increments. Last, I placed them into a dish with no sugar. On one side of the plate, there was a grape scent, and on the other, watermelon. Finally, I recorded how many flies remembered that the grape scent earned them an award. I did this process for each experimental condition. My data showed that the larvae raised on Coca-Cola and Coke Zero were unable to remember which scent was associated with a reward. Almost each time, about half of the larvae went to the grape scent while the other half flocked to the watermelon scent. This revealed to me that they were unable to remember their training and took a guess. It was really cool to see that the assay revealed to me that the larvae were affected significantly by the beverage. While this assay was not particularly difficult, it was very time consuming and required a decent amount of patience. I’m grateful for the friends that visited me and kept me company while I performed this assay, as well as the instructors and TA checking in on me often. It truly made performing the assay a worthwhile experience!
Can consumption of Coca-Cola and Coke Zero impact developmental cognition?”
I am grateful to my TRIP peers, instructors, and TA for all of the smiles, laughs, and silly discussions. I was able to meet such an incredible group of like-minded people and truly established some great friendships. I am really looking forward to the people that my TRIP peers will grow into in the future, I know that they all have great things ahead of them! I feel lucky to have been a part of their journey for the short amount of time that I was. I am thankful to Dr. Leystra, Ms.Pellegrin, Diya, and the rest of my incredible TRIP peers. I am thankful to everyone reading this for following my journey. I am signing off for now! Have an incredible day.
My project centered around something I am immensely passionate about: veganism. As a vegan of 2+ years, many have had some *interesting* claims about the ways being a developing vegan may harm my health. For my project, I chose to see if there was any merit to one such claim, that being vegan could impact my fertility. To do this, I set up 8 vials consisting of animal-based protein, plant-based protein, and Vitamin B12 – a vitamin critical for fertility that is often deficient in vegans. I found that a plant-based protein diet didn’t have any adverse effects on fertility when examined next to an animal-based protein diet. While Vitamin B12 did slightly improve female fertility for plant-based fly diets, its effects were so minuscule that it would appear plant-based protein diets can support fertility well enough that supplementation isn’t necessary.
Aside from growing as a researcher, TRIP has also given me the resources to grow as a person. I had hands-on opportunities to network with research professionals. I was given the chance to listen to fascinating career talks where I was able to do a lot of introspection as to the professional life I hope to attain. I learned the most from my intelligent, dynamic group of peers who became friends from my TRIP session. I’d like to thank Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, Ms. Pellegrin, Diya Parekh, my mother, my family, and my TRIP peers for making this TRIP possible. I can’t wait to see where this TRIP takes me in the future!
We’ve finally finished our 10 days in the lab, and time really flew by! This entire experience has shown me that the lab is a place that I truly enjoy working in. I’ve grown so close to my TRIP friends in both Session A and Session B (benefits of coming into the lab at 11AM every day!) and this experience has been one that I will cherish forever.
Even after spending 6 hours in the lab, I still had to rush to finish all my assays on time. It was definitely shocking when I realized how inaccurate my original time estimates were, especially after we ran out of CO2 in the lab and were forced to sort our flies on ice. Still, I’ve found myself enjoying the methodic routine of performing one assay after another, examining over 100 flies under the microscope to analyze their gut lining, and making many microcentrifuge tubes full of crushed fly gut solutions (I promise the process isn’t as gross as it sounds). Even the data analysis has been interesting despite my admittedly impatient nature.
When I first went into the TRIP lab, I never expected myself to fall in love with science even more.
When I first went into the TRIP lab, I never expected myself to fall in love with science even more. This journey has provided far more than simply “research experience”. I’ve learned how to perform assays efficiently, strengthened my collaboration skills, and I feel like we’ve built a community that will last far beyond these 5 weeks. I’ve even reached some conclusions in my independent project, like how extreme spice does damage the gut lining, but pickle juice can reduce the severity of this effect! Needless to say, all of this could not have happened without Dr. Leystra, our TA Diya, and all of my new friends at TRIP. Even though we’ve reached the end of this “TRIP”, I can’t wait to see what future journeys we all have ahead of us!
Post TRIP Blues by Ashli Lao
Imagine you are flying home from a week-long vacation. In such a short time you visited landmarks, tasted different cuisines, interacted with new people, and experienced a completely different world. Although TRIP might not have been as relaxing as a vacation, this program has exposed me to new ideas, students, and skills in only a month.
Additionally, talking to all of my new TRIP friends has inspired me to embrace my interests and feel confident in my goals, no matter how difficult. Everyone has shown tremendous support by helping to sort flies, assisting with computer troubles, and expressing genuine interest in each other’s endeavors. There were times when my project did not go as planned, but that is a part of the learning process and it’s not the end of the world to make some mistakes.
My independent project studied the effects of hormonal birth control and green tea on anxiety and weight, which was slightly different from what I had first planned. Originally, I anticipated investigating metabolism and weight. However, I had to shift gears when my assay required a chemical fume hood. In the end, testing anxiety was beneficial because of its implications for mental health in pharmaceuticals. After running through four replications, I found that fruit flies who consumed hormonal birth control tended to be more anxious, which could mean that hormonal birth control may not be the best medication for those who struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety disorder. The resulting effects of birth control on weight changes varied dramatically for each replication with half resulting in weight loss and a half resulting in weight gain. As for the green tea, the fruit flies who consumed green tea were significantly less anxious and maintained a steady weight. When fruit flies consumed both birth control and green tea, the green tea helped the flies resist changes in weight and reduce anxiety.
Overall, TRIP has intensified my desire to pursue a research-based career and given me the opportunity to make mistakes, develop research skills, build my confidence in speaking about science, and make friends with people I may not have ever been able to meet.
“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” – Anthony G. Oettinger
This was the first result online when I typed in “Quotes about time flying” . I find it ironic that the first result just happens to be about fruit flies, but I find this to ring true. This quite humorous quote is reminding us of how fast our life passes by like an arrow propelling at a target, but to fruit flies, this is insignificant because they see in the present appreciating the good in front of them. 5 short weeks ago, I was fearful that I was going to break a micropipette and now I have strangely trained hundreds of flies to absolutely detest the scent of bananas (also ironic).
I am beyond grateful for the skills, friends, and experiences TRIP has equipped me with, and will treasure these moments as I move to the next chapter in my life. This has also made me think, how often do we stop to take a second to appreciate the moment? TRIP has unexpectedly taught me this lesson. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of the world but spending hours on end with fruit flies and putting away distractions allowed me to more deeply appreciate the heart that goes into research as well as focus on the journey more than the destination, even when at times that feels impossible.
My TRIP Independent project explored, “The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Learning and Short-term Memory: Do De-stress Supplements That Claim to Improve Brain Alertness Really Work?” Creating my own assay from start to finish was an experience like no other. It was rewarding to see that it became a tangible reality that my other classmates were able to use as a tool to explore their projects as well. I am just going to say it: Training fruit flies is one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. The feeling of the flies learning tasks and starting to hate the banana scent after experiencing discomfort gave me a deeper recognition of all that these tiny creatures can do to advance science even today.
Creating my own assay from start to finish was an experience like no other.
The exciting thing is that the flies were able to learn. It was amazing to analyze the differences and see if the OLLY de-stress and focus supplement was able to improve the way that a fly retains information even after being sleep deprived. And this all started, because one day I was wondering “Does cramming for a test really work when you don’t get enough sleep, and can its negative effects be ‘cured’?”
I wanted to take a moment to thank Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, Ms. Pellegrin, Diya (our wonderful TA), and my amazing classmates for their unconditional support and dedication to the program. If you are on the fence about applying to TRIP, do it, I guarantee that you won’t regret it. You will end up surprising yourself with what you are capable of and gain so much. Until next time, it’s been an incredible TRIP.
It feels like just yesterday was the first day of TRIP and now it's soon coming to an end. TRIP has been an “amazingly hard” experience, it was very fun to learn about fruit flies and perform experiments but it definitely wasn't easy. Trying to balance assignments and summer fun was very hard (and still is) but it was a truly rewarding experience that if I had the choice I would do again in a heartbeat. When I first joined the program I had never experimented with any kind of experiment on flies, but after this I can confidently say that I feel very comfortable working with flies now.
Nevertheless I loved the process of trying to make a research question and eventually getting to test my own research question on the fly. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and I will continue to use the skills that trip taught me later on in my life in future career prospects. TRIP has changed my life in every positive way and for that I am grateful to this program.
Hey, hey everyone! Wow, what a ride it has been; my time at TRIP has literally flown by (do you get it?) Unfortunately, this will be my last post for the program, though it has been quite a bittersweet ending!
Let me catch you up real quick. These past few weeks have been quite eventful. I have been focusing on how Penicillin & Streptomycin (a contemporary form of medicine) and Asparagus racemosus (a completely natural form of medicine) affect fertility and the rate of growth. The results, on the other hand, have been fruitful and outstanding. It seems that the natural antibiotic (A. racemosus) has been quite successful in proving its data amongst fertility and rate of growth.
To understand how each assay was performed, I wanted to determine the correct concentration and dosage to provide to the fruit flies. Therefore, I tried to perform a microbiome assay for the flies themselves, but it failed. In fact, the higher dosages had more bacteria compared to the standard (calculated) dosage and medium dose.
As a result, I decided to use the standard dosage of A. racemosus for the flies, along with the standard dosage of Penicillin & Streptomycin (PenStrep). For my first repetition, I prepared the female fertility assay by separating the females and allocating them into individual collection cages. Then, I placed grape plates with a bit of yeast paste (making the perfect fly soup!) enticing the female flies to lay their embryos. Compared to the control, the natural antibiotic had laid the most amount of embryos, and I nearly had 192 embryos for my third repetition! To illustrate the groundwork for my quantitative analysis, I calculated the embryos per female and the percent hatching; this depicts the success of the offspring. Both results had been in favor of the natural antibiotic.
Furthermore, I plan on collecting additional information on the side effects seen in the artificial antibiotic, as it is quite prevalent. Though it is extremely important to mention the fact that the natural antibiotic does not contain any side effects, the artificial antibiotic’s effectiveness may be reliant on this information. However, I am still comparing and analyzing this data, and I hope to present my findings at the symposium.
This wonderful program has given me a complete research experience, something incomparable to a high school classroom. I am certain that the conversations and experiences that occurred in the program will last forever, and I can't wait to go back to another lab! All in all, I’m truly grateful and happy to have made it this far, to be a part of this program and amazing community. I am completely ready for this final presentation, and though this may be the end of a TRIP of a lifetime, this is just the beginning of my wonderful career in the world of medicine!