…protein mutations. For a couple of projects this summer, the students were tasked to generate mutations of our proteins of interest. For those of you who have produced mutations before, you know that it take a number of steps including primer design, PCR, transformations, DNA isolation, sequencing, etc. One thing can go wrong in the process causing the sequencing to fail or the mutation to not take and you have to go back to the start. It takes perseverance; however, when you get the right result, it is very satisfying.

I walked into the lab one morning to find science hard at work and one of the incubators full of colonies with potential mutations (see the picture). In my anticipation for the sequencing results that we would get a couple of days later, I was struck that this experimental process mimics research at a primarily undergraduate institution. As a professor, you teach your students the techniques hoping that they mutate into better scientists over the course of the summer. Sometimes there is a need for repetition (and you have no idea why). But in the end, you can see how much they have changed. You get that positive confirmation as you watch them present at seminars and poster sessions or casually talk about their work with friends. It is just as satisfying as aligning sequencing results to confirm a successful mutation.

Happy 4th of July everyone! Thanks to my students who have been working hard, pushing through the challenges, and making progress on their mutations this summer.