Students can use the instrument for analysis of both Western blots and DNA gels, so we don’t have to have two separate systems
Dr. Sue Katz
Professor, Rogers State University
At the Claremore campus of Rogers State University in Oklahoma, Dr. Sue Katz and her colleagues are preparing their students for rewarding careers in science. The faculty in the department of Biology have designed a unique curriculum with exposure to hands-on research, to equip students with the skills needed for post-graduate professional programs and research.
Over a core course sequence, Biology students have the opportunity to independently work in a lab or in the field. “All of our students do Capstone projects, and these are not library projects but actual research projects,” says Katz. She and her colleagues, including Drs. Jin Seo and Eric Lee mentor undergraduate students to develop their own research problem, submit a proposal, perform experiments, and then present findings, like a mini-thesis.
The Biology Department houses an Odyssey® Fc Imaging System that was purchased through LI-COR Biosciences’ Science Undergraduate Research Grant* (SURG) program. The instrument’s ease of use makes it a good fit for budding researchers’ workflows.
A Robust Platform for Multiple Imaging Applications
Dr. Seo likes the versatility of the Odyssey Fc platform. “Students can use the instrument for analysis of both Western blots and DNA gels, so we don’t have to have two separate systems,” he says. The instrument has also simplified collation and organization of data acquired from different imaging experiments.
After basically being taught once, it [the instrument] really wasn’t hard to use afterwards
One of Seo’s students, Dylan Allen’s research project involved differential expression analysis of a target gene. “I was testing the effects of antigen deprivation on prostate cancer cells and used the Odyssey Fc to test PSA expression. After basically being taught once, it [the instrument] really wasn’t hard to use afterwards… I can use it all by myself now,” he says. Allen aspires to further his career in cancer research following graduation and has applied for an MD/PhD program.
To Katz, the ability to perform multiplex Western blotting on Odyssey Fc is advantageous. “For the kind of research questions that we are starting to ask, we needed two colors. This machine really gives us that flexibility, plus we can also do chemiluminescence with it,” she says.
Their department has also purchased a real-time PCR system. A laboratory course incorporating experiments on the PCR and Odyssey Fc systems is in the works. “In the [new] class we will analyze [biochemical] pathways and utilize both of these instruments. It will set a basis by which students will have some skills that they can use as a jumping off point for their senior projects,” says Lee, another of Katz’s colleagues.
Expanding Research Capabilities
For the kind of research questions that we are starting to ask, we needed two colors. This machine really gives us that flexibility, plus we can also do chemiluminescence with it.
Katz learned about LI-COR’s SURG matching funds grant program when she was attending the American Society of Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) 2014. “In Oklahoma, we have limited NIH funding that goes to state projects, an idea network, and an equipment grant. So I wrote an OK-INBRE equipment grant for our department. It is not a small amount of money, but it was a good place to go for it and we made a real good campaign to get it.” In addition to the Odyssey Fc, Katz was able to furnish their labs with multi-channel pipettors, from the same equipment grant that they had secured.
Katz believes that the Odyssey Fc, along with the other instrumentation in their department, provides a competitive research infrastructure for students and faculty. “In order to get quality faculty, we had to have the ability for them to do the kind of research they want to do. That also ties in with the students. As we upgrade our research capabilities and the courses that we are teaching, it pulls our students upward. They can all use these instruments. I think it gives them a real advantage,” she says.
Educators looking to equip their lab with versatile instrumentation for undergraduate research can take advantage of LI-COR’s SURG program.
*SURG program is available in the following countries: United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
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