I taught one of my students how to do Western blot analysis on the Odyssey Fc and she taught the next one, and then the next one, because it is so user-friendly.
Dr. Debra Martin
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
At Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Dr. Debra Martin is equipping her undergraduate students with cutting-edge techniques in molecular biology. The Professor in the Biology Department believes in providing practical training for cultivating interest in research.
Martin’s students have a share in generating data for their lab courses as well as their independent research projects. “We like our students to get hands-on experience, not just have me demonstrate. Part of our requirements for majoring in Biology or Biochemistry is an undergraduate research thesis project,” she says. Her students have showcased their work at several regional meetings and have secured two honors at the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society district meeting.
Martin was awarded LI-COR Biosciences’ Science Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) towards the purchase of an Odyssey® Fc Imaging System. This instrument, a constituent of three lab courses and students’ senior research projects, sits at the hub of activity in the lab.
A Complement to Lab Coursework
Students in Martin’s Molecular Biology and Biochemistry lab courses routinely use the Odyssey Fc for DNA gel documentation of PCR products, Western blotting, and Southern blotting. “It was a lot of hassle to do Western blots before we got the Odyssey Fc because we didn’t always know what we were going to get… and then judging the intensity, how long do you leave the film on, that was always a problem. I could never show the students what was being done because it was in the darkroom,” she says.
It was a lot of hassle to do Western blots before we got the Odyssey Fc because we didn’t always know what we were going to get... I could never show the students what was being done because it was in the darkroom.
With the Odyssey Fc, students huddle around the instrument, where she is able to show them how to image their blots. “They can see that we put the blot in [and] we capture its image. We talk all the way through the process, so that we can get the best image. They can then use it to perform data analysis and insert the image for a figure in their final paper for the course.” Martin agrees that the imager has brought teaching Western blotting to light!
In the Biochemistry lab course, Martin’s students perform fatty acid analysis using a fluorescent dye on Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) plates and image them on the Odyssey Fc. “We were not able to capture the data as an image before we had the Odyssey Fc. Now when students write their lab report they can incorporate the image. It is much easier for them to measure RF values from the image [acquired on the instrument].”
Dr. Matt Rowley, who teaches a lab course in Genetics, also has his students image gels for the documentation of PCR products on the Odyssey Fc.
Enabling Students to Have the Upper Hand in their Research Projects
Martin is presently mentoring several students’ independent research projects. “I taught one of my students how to do Western blot analysis on the Odyssey Fc and she taught the next one, and then the next one, because it is so user-friendly. In fact when I was away at a Conference, I had my students performing data analysis on the instrument.” She states that it is important for them to be able to work on their own and maintain the continuity of the project. “When I came back, they had it all done, because it is easy for them…We would like them to feel comfortable with a piece of equipment that they are going to use, and that is what I found with the Odyssey Fc,” she adds.
Martin uses the fluorescence mode for all of her Western blotting. “My students have presented data generated with the Odyssey Fc. With two colors, everything looks really sharp, pretty, and professional.”
Martin believes that having a high quality piece of equipment like the Odyssey Fc has allowed their students to gain more practical experience with technology in the imaging of Western blots and molecular biology experiments.
Educators like Martin, looking to incorporate cutting-edge technology in their classrooms and labs can take advantage of LI-COR’s SURG program, and engage students in research projects.
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