Carnegie Mellon University
April 11, 2017

Making Glow in the Dark Bacteria

Outreach 2017

On March 21st & 22nd, the Department of Biological Sciences Outreach Program hosted 107 high school students to perform a Molecular Biology Transformation Experiment. Students came from North Allegheny, Freeport, Central Catholic, Serra Catholic, and Ellwood City High Schools and were given an introduction into the central dogma of molecular biology, Transformation, and Plasmid DNA structure, and the power of genetic engineering by Dr. Natalie McGuier. The students were then broken into smaller groups that were mentored by undergraduate teaching assistants. 

Students were instructed on sterile lab technique before working at the lab bench. The students performed a transformation experiment where they made bacterial cells competent through an incubation in calcium chloride. Next, they transformed their competent bacteria with a control plasmid and plasmid pLUX (containing the luciferase gene from the marine fish, Vibrio fisheri.) After a recovery period, the plasmid-transformed bacterial cells were spread on agar plates. The day ended with the lead instructors reviewing the transformation experiment, and discussing the experimental outcomes. The students transported their agar plates back to their school for analysis. In the next days, the students assessed the pLux plasmid transformed bacteria for glow in the dark colonies.

Dr. Carrie Doonan coordinated the experiment. Dr. McGuier provided the introduction, and facilitated the outreach. Lead Instructors were Dr. Emily Drill, and Dr. Natalie McGuier. Undergraduate teaching assistants: Jennifer Huang, Njaire McKoy, Daniel Evans, Ansley Sharna, Emery Noll, Nathalie Chen, Hannah Soltz, Zach Sachar, Joe Park, Ian Foo, Hannah Kolev, Tanya Talwar, Miwa Shirai, Meredith Schmehl, Vanessa Diaz, Tiffany Phan, Phillip Nantawisarakul, Noa Park, Ling Xu, Kavita Ramnath, Fred Mun, Joe Garvey, Julia Carter, Erin Sipple, Jared McPhail, Carolyn Vanek, Jacob Muskovitz, Alan Hsu, Kyle Gheewala, Amanda Kuhn, Kathy Huang, and Jamie Yang.  Participating High School teachers were Cara DeSalvo, Serra Catholic, Will Malokay, Freeport, Sherri Fowler, North Allegheny, Jonica Walters and Jody Christophe, Ellwood City, and Cassandra Sirockman - Bell, Oakland Catholic.