Medina Lab Undergraduate research assistant Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA August 2015-February 2017
Project: Bacterial communities associated with Symbiodinium August 2015 - present Through this project, I aim to identify bacterial species common to five strains of Symbiodinium. Culturing Symbiodinium and plating their bacteria on marine agar plates, I have isolated and identified 39 bacterial colonies with 16S sequencing in conjunction with 16S whole community sequencing of Symbiodinium liquid cultures. Currently, I am determining whether the addition of some of these bacteria influence the growth rates (via cell counts) and health (via PAM yield) of the different strains of Symbiodinium. In a sub-project, I have separated the cells of the Symbiodinium from surrounding bacteria with flow cytometry and am characterizing the remaining bacterial communities of these cultures and their health over time to possibly identify an innate bacterial community of these zooxanthellae. Finally, I plan on determining whether any of the bacteria I have isolated produced antimicrobial against the pathogen Vibrio corallilyticus. Very excited about the data so far!
Project: Global Coral Microbiome Project: Field Expedition: Colombia 2015 Cartagena, Colombia October 13 - 24, 2015 I was selected by one of Dr. Monica Medina's post-docs to join him and a PhD student in Cartagena, Colombia. This segment of the Global Coral Microbiome Project aims to look at the impact of salinity on the microbial communities in the mucus, tissue, and skeletal compartments of coral. Because the Colombian government restricts the transport of coral overseas, we had to extract the DNA from the coral samples while abroad (DNA is allowed to be transported). Since I am still working on my AAUS Scientific Diver certification and not permitted by Penn State to dive, I was brought on the trip to extract the DNA while the post-doc and our collaborators collected more samples. Occasionally, I was able to join the divers on the boat and help set up gear and process samples. While on the boat, I snorkeled in the beautiful reefs and searched for the rare Acropora spp. colonies they needed to sample from. I really hope to return some day and actually dive there. The image on the right is the "lab" I assembled in the apartment to extract DNA.