Interning at Sars through BIO299 – experiencing «real science»

Dear reader, my name is Sandra Wergedahl and this semester I have had the pleasure of interning in the Steinmetz group at Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology through BIO299. I chose the BIO299 course because I wanted to know what it would be like to do “real science” and if I want to be a scientist when I grow up. Well, I still haven’t decided the latter, as I plan on taking the BIO298 course to experience another profession a practicing biologist might have, but I can inform you that doing real science is much more interesting and fun than doing prearranged experiments in BIO-whatever. It is also educational. Before taking this course, I had barely touched upon the theory of how a PCR worked, but now I can do one on my own, with the knowledge of how it works. The same applies to gel electrophoresis. Both of these are techniques frequently used in molecular labs, and I am glad to have learned them now.


I have also discovered that my belief of what marine biology entails was incorrect and narrow. It does not have to involve fish at all, which is what I used to think. In the Steinmetz group, we worked with sea anemones, Nematostella vectensis, but other groups also worked with other marine animals that were not fish. This realization has opened the door of marine biology to me again, despite the fact that I was the one who closed it, but let’s not dwell on that.


I can’t relate the details of the project I was participating in, but it involved removing genes with CRISPR-Cas9 technology. My part of the project specifically was assisting in genotyping the offspring of the first generation of mutants (the F0 generation) and wildtypes (WT). The offspring of F0s and WTs are the F1 generation. The PCR and gel electrophoresis mentioned above, as well as extracting DNA from animal tissue, is what made up the process of genotyping. This might sound like not a lot for a whole semester, but I did not find it repetitive or boring. The results were always interesting (another thing that makes “real science” fun; you don’t know what will happen).


Now that my time at Sars has ended, I wish to thank my supervisor, Inés Fournon Berodia, for teaching me not only techniques, but also how to interpret results and think more like a scientist. I also want to thank Fabian Rentzsch for being my co-supervisor from BIO, without whom I would not have been allowed to intern at Sars, and lastly, thank you to all of Steinmetz group and all of Sars for making me feel welcome. I will miss you.


Thank you for reading,

Sandra Wergedahl.

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