Summer at Bates is in full swing!

Welcome to our first blog!

I am very excited to be writing to you from Maine. This is my first summer here (I grew up in Vermont) and I absolutely love it so far.

My summer began with a two week scouting trip to the Galapagos with the chair of my department, Don Dearborn. We were visiting the archipelago to plan a NEW short term course to be launched in 2014. At Bates, we have short regular semesters (12 weeks rather than the normal 15 weeks), and as such we are able to offer a 5-week term from April to May which we call Short Term. We had a great time and are very excited to bring ~18 students next year. We are partnering with IOI on Isabela Island, a non-profit organization that seeks to merge higher education with local development aid in education and conservation. My friend and colleague, Johann Besserer, started IOI in 2006 and the institute now partners with several colleges and universities from the US, including University of Miami, University of Connecticut dental school, and University of Hartford.

Upon return from the Galapagos in mid-June, research started in my laboratory. I have four talented undergrads this summer who are working on three different research projects. Our lab studies how molecular pathways signal developmental processes. We are interested in this question as it relates to two transcription factor families in the model organism, the zebrafish. Transcription factors are proteins that help initiate (or repress) the expression of genes. We are using zebrafish because they are easy to keep in the lab, have lots of genomic and molecular resources, have external fertilization, and rapidly develop. My students have been working really hard in the lab the last couple weeks learning lots of techniques and we are hoping that our zebrafish start breeding so that we can get our experiments going. Stay tuned for their updates throughout the summer!