~Dr. Knopp’s Imaging Lab~

At the beginning of the summer, I started a position in Dr. Michael Knopp’s Radiology Lab.  Dr. Knopp is a radiologist with a PhD in Computer Science. Over the course of the summer, I have not only learned a significant amount about MRI’s, but also what goes into the organization and coordination of a clinical trial.  There are many projects going on in Dr. Knopp’s lab at the Wright Center of Innovation, but I specifically spent most of my time working on a Glioblastoma clinical trial, and some of it working on a Meningioma clinical trial.  My job was to look at patient scans as well as the parameters of their scans and compile the information so that a comparison could be done to see if all of the sites were sending in scans that were up to protocol.  Depending on the sequence of the MRI and the field strength of the scanner(3T or 1.5T), different parameters were laid out.  In these trials, the sequences looked at were T2, FLAIR, 3D T1 (pre- and post-contrast), DWI, and Perfusion (DSC for the Glioblastoma trial and DCE for the Meningioma trial). I learned the defining features of each type of scan, and which parameters are most important for each type.  One of the main goals of the compilation project was to use this information to decide how close the parameters of the scans sent in had to be to the protocol to be acceptable for the trial.  Different sites have different types of scanners, so communicating exactly what is wanted for each trial is extremely important for the trial to have accurate and comparable results.  So much work is put into improving the the protocol so that there are substantially less problems and disparities for future trials.  Since these trials use patients from different facilities throughout the U.S., it is very important to be clear and concise in communicating the specific scans that each trial requires. This research experience has not only given me a great foundation of imaging information that I will be able to use in the future, but has also introduced me to some incredible people.  Overall, I am happy to have helped out in a lab that has opened my eyes to a different side of the research process.

~Biology 1114H Endophytes Research Project~

This in-class research project helped to open my eyes to the incredible amount of work that goes into every single research inquiry.  For this project, we were given information about endophytes, which are microorganisms that inhabit internal plant tissues.  These endophytes are typically seen to have a mutualistic relationship with the plant, meaning that both the endophytes and the plant benefit from the relationship.  Given minimal information, we were required to come up with a testable research question involving endophytes.  My partner and I decided to explore how the endophyte diversity of a plant would be affected when the plant was introduced to salt stress.  We worked throughout the semester to run the experiment, and collect as much data as we could with the resources provided.  We were able to gather data using microscopy, PCR and gel electrophoresis, and several bioassays.  We also drew upon literature to help us make predictions and consider why we had the outcomes that we did.  Once all of the data had been collected, we created a poster to present at a mini forum.  The forum consisted of several Biology classes presenting their original research to various faculty members.  My partner and I were able to present to many professors, as well as our TA. This was a great learning opportunity for me, as I hope to present research at forums, such as the Denman Forum, in the near future.

This is the final product of the poster that we presented. The poster gives a summary of the most important points of the study.