It’s me, Anjali, again. It is unimaginable to believe that we are officially halfway done with the TRIP Initiative! The time has completely ‘flown’ by and I have made the most inspiring friends along the way. I am so thankful for all the amazing experiences I have had and all the ways that I have grown as a learner and as a person. We’ve come so far, but there are so many wonderful things yet to come! I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, I’ve come to love the tiny creatures that are often seen as a pest. Now I look at fruit flies and see a complex organism with roughly 70% of our genetic makeup that we can learn so much from.
If you would have asked me a month ago how I would go about creating my own independent research project I would have stared at you dumbfounded. In just a few weeks, with the help of the most supportive instructors, I was able to do this! Create a project proposal? Calculate and make highly diluted drug stocks and concentrations? Present my findings to my peers? Create a research assay and procedure? Train fruit flies and look at their short-term memory abilities? Yep…all of that I am able to do here at TRIP in just a few short weeks, it is an absolutely indescribable feeling. I’m continuing (like I mentioned last time) to grow in the beauty of mistakes and failure because that is when our resilience is strengthened.
I’m continuing...to grow in the beauty of mistakes and failure because that is when our resilience is strengthened
You may be wondering, Anjali, get to the point! What is your research project going to be about and how could you possibly be so passionate about it? Well, it all started when I was hooked on the idea of studying the behavior of fruit flies and specifically how memory works. I went to Dr. Leystra and I asked,” I know it may sound crazy, but would it be possible to train the fruit flies to perform a task?” Of course, she said there are definitely multiple ways to look at how fruit flies learn. I knew that I wanted to study how adult flies learn…Unfortunately, that current assay takes 10 hours per session!! So I thought back to the drawing board…Then I started thinking we are studying fruit flies surprisingly not to learn about fruit flies, but rather learn about ourselves and the world around us. We have all been in the position where we are cramming the night before a big test hoping we will absorb the necessary information. How many of us have become sleep deprived after a night of studying? According to one survey published by BBC, 99% of students admit to having crammed before. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable and are just a part of being human. So I set out to see how a popular gummy, the OLLY Goodbye Stress supplement that claims to increase focus and decrease stress actually affects our short-term memory and focus in a test-like scenario. This is why my research question is, “How does a de-stress supplement gummy that claims to increase brain alertness (Olly–Contains: GABA, L-Theanine & Lemon Balm) impact short-term memory of negative reinforcement training tasks when an adult fly experiences sleep deprivation?"
For this, I wanted to look at negative reinforcement in relation to retaining information. This is not an assay that has ever been utilized by students at TRIP before, so that is why I am currently in the process of creating it! In a nutshell, I will heat shock the fruit flies by using a warm water bath (to make them feel a bit uncomfortable) while being exposed to a certain odor. The hope is that when they are in a T-maze pictured below, with 2 odors they will travel to the tube with the neutral scent that they have not been exposed to with a negative association before.
That’s all for now, I can’t wait to update you on how everything went!
Thank you so much for reading, until next time,