Year in Review: 2014

It’s been quite the year in the Williams Lab!

2014 started with a bang; I submitted four grant proposals and one fellowship application before school started. In January, seven thesis students buzzed around the lab with projects ranging from testing new antioxidant compounds to the genetics of invasive green crabs. In the classroom, I taught my Molecular Biology course (for the second time) and geared up for the Galapagos.

In April I took 16 students to the islands, many of whom had never left the United States. It was a great course, filled with many memories—many of which are well documented on our blog or in their personal journals. I had about 4 days back in southern Maine for which I spent packing up the lab and attending graduation.

After graduation I headed up to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (www.mdibl.org), where I taught a non-credit comparative biomedical course to eight Bates students at MDIBL and Jackson Labs over the course of two weeks. Shifting gears back into research, I turned my attention to my research lab, funded by a MDIBL fellowship and four student INBRE fellowships. Over the course of 10 weeks, three Bates students and one College of the Atlantic Student phenotypically characterized how zebrafish change in response to chemicals that cause oxidative stress. This project turned out to be much more challenging than anticipated, but they did a great job and we all learned a lot! I also joined forces with the Disney (http://mdibl.org/faculty/jane-e-disney/) and James (http://mdibl.org/faculty/karen-e-james/) labs to study the invasive green crab population around the island, with a focus on the crabs’ role in eel grass destruction. In doing so, I mentored two fantastic undergraduates from Swarthmore and Smith.

In July I found out that I had received funding for my NIH INBRE project (http://inbre.maineidea.net/research-projects/) that provides funds my lab for the next five years. In addition, I also got word from the NSF that they would be funding our Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) to purchase a confocal microscope (http://www.bates.edu/biology/2014/09/01/confocal-microscope/). Essentially a confocal microscope is an excellent fluorescent microscope that can both take great images as well as quantify them. All in all, a great success on the funding front!

The summer ended with a great Bates-Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) two-week course, where, along with two colleagues, I taught four faculty and six students (a little) about microscopy and molecular biology. This is an ongoing collaboration between the two colleges that was started last year with seed money from Bates and continued this year and will again for the next four years with Maine INBRE funds.

After a week off, I jumped right back into the thick of things, with two classes (Molecular Biology and a new first year seminar). The semester went great—the courses were fun to teach and the students were engaging! In addition, I have a great crew of year long thesis students working on important and exciting questions in molecular biology.

So as 2014 winds down, I want to thank everyone that has made this a great year and hope that 2015 is even better. Happy Holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year.