Hi! It’s Tina here again. As TRIP is crossing its halfway point, we are finally starting to conduct our individual research project! Since I was accepted into the program, I was super excited about creating my own project from scratch, and now, being able to write up my own plans, goals, directions, etc., it truly made me feel like a scientist at work.
Since there are many authorized articles that proved both the effectiveness of antibiotics and yogurt on intestinal inflammation, I established my research around two main points: the effectiveness of antibiotics and yogurt when they are both used together, and their effect on fly anxiety to determine these diets’ effects on mood. Combining these two points together, I established my research question as “How do antibiotics and yogurt affect levels of anxiety in flies with intestinal inflammation”. Through exploring this topic, I hope that my results can break myths and help others eliminate ineffective use of antibiotics and probiotics in daily life.
How do antibiotics and yogurt affect levels of anxiety in flies with intestinal inflammation?"
Over the first few weeks of TRIP, I made many new friends. I always look forward to the 4 hours with my TRIP friends (and also the lovely fruit flies)! Everyone gives me such valuable ideas and suggestions that I cannot easily get in school or daily life. Finally, thank YOU for reading my blog and being a part of my experience; stay tuned for a last update on the results of my study and final reflections!
I severely underestimated the amount of math mistakes a single person could make in three weeks. As confident as I am in the lab, I struggled a lot creating dilutions and drug stocks, confusing what number is Volume 1 and Volume 2 when doing dilution problems. Thankfully, my TRIP-mates have gracefully helped me essentially relearn how to do math. Outside of my obvious disdain for math, I have had so much fun in the lab. On Day 2 of being in the lab, we learned how to sort files using a CO2 pad and a paintbrush. It was so stressful trying to ensure I was not going over 15 minutes with the flies on the pad, trying to differentiate between male and female flies, and trying to not accidentally kill the flies with my paintbrush. After a few trips to the CO2 tank, I managed to decrease my time per vial by roughly 8 minutes which is amazing for someone like me who gets distracted somewhat easily.
After learning how to sort flies, me and Nadia completed the female fertility assay alongside each other. We were naturals at transferring files from vial to vial without having to knock them out using CO2 or ice. Just the fact that we didn't release 50 flies at once trying to complete the assay is a success in my book. We used grape plates and yeast to entice the flies into laying embryos. We then used the microscopes to count how many embryos were laid and eventually hatched. A few flies actually got stuck to my grape plates and the images of my stuck flies were promptly posted on my Instagram story as soon as I was able to get a picture of them through the microscope. Doing the female fertility assay was fun, but I knew early on that was not the direction I was planning on taking for my independent project.
I have decided I want to focus on the effect varying water quality has on the gut microbiome. I have been to five different schools since starting kindergarten, 3 in the School District of Philadelphia and 2 outside of it, and I have seen the large disparities in facilities and food quality between the districts. Given how I can actually taste a difference in the water from these schools, I began to wonder what affects the quality of water has on overall health, especially stomach and gut health. At first, I was debating between studying larval memory and the gut microbiome but I decided on gut microbiome because the assay is extremely fun and I am more interested in bacteria then neuroscience and memory. I am excited to get started on my independent project and to do my first microbiome assay!
Hello again, it’s me Diego Asencio from TRIP back again with another blog. We are entering our third week of TRIP here at Temple University, and it has been some of the most enjoyable days of the week for me in the lab. In the last blog, I barely had an idea about what I wanted my individual project to be about, I was just worrying about the homework that I had yet to do. But I recently began the individual project after many hours of brainstorming and preparation.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a condition that I was diagnosed with a few years back. I had a hard time eating certain foods, felt nauseous, and felt like I had a pseudo-heartburn. Over the course of my diagnosis, I learned many new ideas about the body and especially the medicine that I take to help me not feel like my chest is on fire, Omeprazole. A proton pump inhibitor, Omeprazole, inhibits my stomach from creating acid, which reduces the pain that I feel. I feel amazing on the drug, but there hasn’t been any long term studies on omeprazole itself, other than a study about proton-pump inhibitors that say there is a chance that the medicine decreases bone density over time, and as athlete that it was one of the last things I want to happen to my body. So, I chose to study how Omeprazole affects fly larvae throughout their life, and also to see if an increase in dosage has any change to the flies' health as well.
Enough about the science, going to TRIP is something that I look forward to every week! Being independent is something that I have always enjoyed growing up, but now I am truly experiencing how to be an independent person. I drive myself to the train station where I hope I get off at the right stop, I get my own lunch, find my way home, all without any help from anybody. I really can’t describe what a pleasure it is to get out of the little suburbia that I live in and come to the city to experience more than what is around my street corner.
Hey guys! It has been a minute.. Well more like a few WEEKS! We are currently in Week 3 of the TRIP Initiative and We have now begun our independent projects. Prior to beginning our independent projects, we completed our introductory experiments. I was assigned the social space assay and my drug was Vitamin D3 while my stressor was Intestinal Inflammation. Over the course of the week, I examined the effect of intestinal inflammation solely, Vitamin D3 solely, and then both the drug and the stressor to investigate the impact of these conditions on the ability to socialize/ interact within a measured period of time. It was very intriguing and cool to take on this assay. Contrary to others, I rather enjoyed analyzing my raw data into numbers, although it was tedious in the beginning, I found myself enjoying the repetition in collecting the data, organizing, and computing it into a visual representation.
Now, back to my independent project. When deciding what I wanted to study, I considered some options all having to do with the skin, as dermatology is something I would love to specialize in or explore in my future endeavors. Anyhow, I narrowed down my options to my final topic of Eczema. The Reality of Eczema can be very exhausting both physically and psychologically, motivating me to study the impact of eczema medication (Cephalexin and Prednisone) on the stress and anxiety in humans (or what I’m actually testing it on which is flies :) As a prior Eczema Victim (as I like to call it), it was necessary to use multiple medications to harbor the pain or discomfort on a day-to-day basis, whether it was topical or digestible. Luckily, I had less severe eczema, therefore my medications were very mild and I was on them for a short period of time. However, for many others this is not the case, when consuming these medications, the ultimate goal is to stop or prevent more eczema inflammation, therefore important side effects like stress or anxiety are often overlooked. On these medications, individuals often experience nausea or headaches, hunger or lack of appetite, all leading to bodily stress and anxiety. On the surface level this may not be a concern to many however it can influence an individual's day to the fullest extent. Thanks to Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, and the many other coordinates involved in this program, I have been fortunate enough to bring my proposition to life.
Over this past week, I have sorted and created my eczema drug stocks to prep for my open field assay in the upcoming weeks. I have also learned many important tips on drug calculations which I will use in future experiments. I can't wait to see how this project goes and most importantly, I can't wait to update you GUYS!!
Oh, you’re here again! We’re in our 3rd week of TRIP now, halfway through, which means it’s time for us to begin our independent research projects. Exciting, right? I’d celebrate this step with ice cream, except that I’m allergic to dairy. That’s actually what inspired my project. Food allergies like my dairy allergy are currently being researched for treatment with fecal transplants-- replenishing a patient’s gut microbiota with a donor’s stool. Clinical trials with the transplants are also ongoing for a variety of other conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease. Knowing it would be more feasible to simulate IBD than a food allergy, I asked my question.
Are fecal transplants a more effective treatment for IBD than traditional steroids?
I must admit that I had no idea where to begin at first, but the pieces have been coming together. The skills I’ve learned in the past few weeks have proved invaluable. After working with Dr. Leystra and my new friends here, doing more math than you’d expect in a fly experiment, and measuring a LOT of fly food, I’m confident in the direction my project is going. Pretty soon, I’ll have real data to report, and I’ll be able to see for myself what possibilities fecal transplants hold.
I’m exploring an area of science that is still largely unknown, and it absolutely fascinates me. This is a project I’m invested in, and I’m surrounded by smart people that make the whole time more enjoyable. I’m excited for the weeks to come, I’ll see you in the next blog!
Since my last blog, we’ve gotten so many more hands-on experiences at TRIP! Our introductory experiment helped me gain some much needed confidence in the lab, but this increase in confidence did not necessarily come easily. My assigned experiment was testing the effects of Black Cohosh, a drug used in humans to alleviate symptoms of menopause, and constant darkness, my stressor, on female fruit fly fertility. I ended up making a huge mistake by accidentally putting all four of my vials under stress. When I realized what I had done, I felt like an absolute idiot. Dr. Leystra and Dr. Purdy assured me that mistakes happen in the lab, which lowered some of the intense stress and guilt I felt, and I learned how to recover from setbacks in an efficient, positive, and productive manner. I also became more familiar with micropipetting, making agar plates, and making fly food. It felt really good to finally be able to do in person lab procedures after a year of online labs. Besides lab skills and life lessons, I also gained many friends! All my peers have been welcoming and kind, and we have created a positive environment that encourages teamwork!
I learned how to recover from setbacks in an efficient, positive, and productive manner. "
For my independent project, I was inspired by the desperate measures I’ve seen schools take in order to stop teens from vaping. While Covid is the most famous virus right now, vaping truly is like an illness that has spread across our generation (which was supposed to have ended nicotine addictions by stopping cigarette use). There are already many studies on nicotine and most people generally know that it can have harmful effects, but the flavors of vape (which make vape so appealing to teens) have very little research done on them and are not FDA approved. I wanted to test the effects of different vape flavors on memory, since teens are still developing and may not know if flavorings have an impact on their academics. I plan to use the larval memory assay, since larvae, like teenagers, are still developing. I hope that my findings will be helpful and informative, and I’m eager to continue working on my project! See you guys soon!
As we start day 6, I can’t believe TRIP is already halfway over. We collected our last set of developmental data today to wrap up our introductory experiment. In this experiment I was looking at whether a supplement of vitamin E can help mitigate concussion’s effect on overall health. To measure health, I performed the negative geotaxis assay. This works by measuring how many adult flies climb from the bottom of the vial fast versus slow. We assume that flies that climb fast are healthy, and ones that climb slower than average are sick or impared. I also counted how many flies reached the halfway point of their life cycle to measure reproductive success.
This Tuesday, we started our independent projects. In mine I’m looking at the effects of Xylitol on overall health. To measure this I’m using the larval locomotion assay. This one is similar to the negative geotaxis assay in adults: we just measure how far the larvae move. We make the same assumption that fast ones are healthy and slow ones are unhealthy. I am also working on writing an AI program to analyze this data automatically. Ironically this will probably take more time than doing it manually. I will also look at Xylitol’s effect on development.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly used in chewing gum because of its positive effects on oral health. My sister also likes to chew it. After looking into the other effects of xylitol, I discovered there is evidence of a negative impact on the gut biome, but it has less of an effect on blood sugar than regular table sugar. I wondered if the positive and negative effects would cancel out, or if one carries more weight.
As we start the THIRD week of TRIP (how has it been 3 weeks already??), we have just begun our independent experiments. The first two weeks consisted of lots of lectures and introductions to procedures to get the feel for it. Going into the program, I must say I was super confused and wasn’t sure whether or not I would be able to pull off an independent experiment, but after just two weeks I feel so much better about it!
At the end of last week, we decided what our independent projects would be on, and I have decided to test the effect of artificial sweeteners such as Stevia and Splenda on flies’ fertility and gut microbiomes in comparison to natural cane sugar. I chose this topic because I had always grown up hearing my parents always tell me to eat healthy, whole, organic foods whenever possible. However, as I became involved in fitness in my teenage years, I discovered the concept of calories and how even though a food might be considered “healthy”, it may be extremely calorically dense. When someone tries to lose weight, their results ultimately come down from calories in vs calories out, no matter the supposed health benefits of a food. Thus, I discovered zero calorie options such as Splenda and Stevia to replace highly caloric foods such as normal sugar. However, after a while, I began to wonder if calories were really all that mattered when it came down to health. Health is so much more than just how much someone weighs – it includes their fertility, their gut health, and their overall health of their body systems. So, I wanted to see if there are any adverse side effects to cheating the calories of sugar.
So far, my least favorite activity I think is sorting the flies, however I am going to have to sort many more because I am doing the female fertility assay. I find that it is the most tedious task and is often very difficult to decipher between sexes, but I know it is very necessary to continue with my project. Compared to my peers, I find it takes me longer to sort them, but by the end of the program, hopefully I can sort them faster than Dr. Leystra!
As I began making my drug stocks, I realized I may have made them too diluted to see any results. I decided to test the effect of consuming the equivalent of one packet of each of my drugs would have on the flies, however I suspect that one packet may not be enough to see results. I’ll track my flies and see how it goes, and I can’t wait to see what I find out!
Hi readers! I have greatly enjoyed my first couple weeks of TRIP. Over the past weeks, I have learned so much including basic laboratory procedures and even completed my introductory experiment on female fertility. The goal of my fertility experiment was to study the effects of fenugreek and constant darkness on female fertility. In order to accomplish this task, I created grape plates, which are basically small plates primarily made of grape juice and other chemicals that flies like to lay embryos on. Before I gave the flies these plates, I stressed the flies and put fenugreek in their food. After being exposed to these stressors, I had the females lay eggs on grape plates and then counted the number of embryos on each plate. From there, I calculated the average embryos laid by each female. A couple days after that, I counted the number of embryos that hatched. After analyzing this data, I determined that the fenugreek increased the number of embryos laid per female in addition to increasing the hatching rate.
After gaining a basic understanding of the scientific process and how to conduct experiments with fruit flies, it was time to determine my independent project that I would focus on for the rest of the summer session.
After much thought, I decided upon my research questions:
Can exercise make up for a bad diet?
These questions have a personal connection. I enjoy exercising in all forms, especially through organized sports like swimming but also in casual forms like pick up basketball and bike riding. However, I find it quite difficult to maintain a healthy diet when faced with Ritas and Chick-fil-a at every corner! I know I am not the only one who faces this challenge. I have always wondered if my many hours of swim practice per week could make up for lapses in my diet! And, which is more important, a healthy diet or getting exercise?!
To simulate a healthy diet, I will feed the flies extra yeast, which is beneficial to them. For an unhealthy diet, I am giving the flies extra sugar, which is bad for them.
You may be asking, how do fruit flies exercise? Good question! Since fruit flies have a natural tendency to crawl against gravity, I can harness that instinct to basically force the flies to exercise. In order to exercise the flies, I have a somewhat complicated contraption set up which I call my “fruit fly gym”.
I am using a kitchen stand mixer to continuously hit/spin a bingo ball cage. I attached a fan speed control to lower the speed of the mixer, so it doesn't cause too much jolting to the cage. Inside of the cage, are the vials of fruit flies. When the mixer hits the bingo ball cage, the flies will be rotated/knocked, causing them to fall to the bottom and their instinct to climb kicks in. I plan to do this for 2 hours per day to simulate a work out session… Basically, exercise for the fruit flies.
I am very excited to get started, gather data, and see the results of my project!
Hello again! Last time you heard from me I was simply introducing myself where I had already completed my introduction experiment that was originally assigned. The question I was assigned was how the intake of rhodiola in the fly diet and inflammation affect fly alertness through negative geotaxis. I hypothesized that inflammation of the stomach would result in negative effects to their energy, while the usage of rhodiola would increase their energy in general. My reasoning being that rhodiola is often used to help with gastrointestinal inflammation and is used to improve energy, stamina, strength and mental capacity, so distributing this to flies who weren't already affected with stomach inflammation would have an increased energy. My data unfortunately did not represent my hypothesis, instead the data revealed that the flies stayed relatively sluggish regardless of the fact that some of them were exposed to rhodiola.
So far in the program, we have chosen what we want to explore for our independent project, and have planned the first week of our independent projects, but have only completed one day of the experiment. The first day only included sorting flies, creating food which was mixed with our drug of choice. My independent project will be testing the effects that Lead and Bisphenol A contaminants in food have on developing flies (pupae). I have chosen to focus on this because of my interest in food contaminants in our food. While we already have a clear idea as a society that Lead contamination negatively affects the health of vulnerable parties such as infants, the studies on the health effects of Bisphenol A are a lot more unexplored which is why I chose to focus on these two contaminates, while Lead will act as a comparison. To test this I will be using a larval locomotion.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I will see you in the next blog!