Life as an undergrad in a research lab

I would like to start by thanking Dr. Eisen for giving me the opportunity to work in his lab.  This is my first time working in an “outside of class” lab setting and I feel that this project is perfect for undergrads looking for experience in a research lab.   The two mentors helping us, David and Jenna, are great teachers and are always anxious to share their knowledge with us inexperienced ones.  They taught us basic molecular biology techniques and procedures that are used in virtually every biology related lab around the world.

At first, the work was very interesting because I had no experience working in an actual research lab surrounded by actual scientists.  I was eager to soak up knowledge and asked plenty of questions.  When it came time for independent work and growing our own cultures I felt less motivated to do this because I excited to move on to the next stage of sequencing organisms.  As such, I decided not to work with any of the organisms I found and I am hoping to work with an organism that was grown and isolated by the group.

For my independent organism to work with, I am hoping to sequence Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, a known plant pathogen that was tracked into the human built environment.  There aren’t any projects planned to sequence this organism or its relatives, so this seems like an ideal candidate for our project.  Its potential application to the built environment includes its ability to harm plants grown in the indoors, and/or harm crop plants that could make their way into our food.  This sounds like a very interesting bacterium to study because of the REAL world effects!

After we have sequenced the genome we will add it to a database, where other ACTUAL scientists can refer to the data we submitted and make their lives a little bit easier.

3 thoughts on “Life as an undergrad in a research lab”

  1. Some questions

    1) Where did this organism come from? (that is – what environment was it isolated from)

    2) What is the evidence that you have a sample of Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens?

    3) Why do you think it is a plant pathogen?


    1. Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens was isolated from a carpet sample from one of the undergrads apartments. We know it is a sample of Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens because we sequenced the 16s gene and fed the sequence into the BLAST database which gave us 99% match that the 16s of our organism belonged to curtobacterium flaccumfaciens. We know it is a plant pathogen based on researching the bacteria strain and looking at some of its known relatives which are all plant pathogens.


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