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I have been fortunate enough to do research under Dr. Harrington, a biology professor at Fredonia, for about two and a half years now. We work on extracting lipids from Microalgea for alternative energy purposes. My project has focused on the lipid production pathway and investigating how we can maximize this process to produce the highest lipid content. The variables we changed were the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the media provided to our algae cells. We change these media concentrations over time in order to monitor changes in lipid production. As soon as the desired cell growth was reached we would harvest these cells, break them open and monitor the lipid concentrations. In order to observe this we quantified mRNA levels that code for Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase, a key enzyme in the lipid production pathway, and Thiolase, an enzyme involved in lipid degradation. Furthermore, we are currently developing an non-radioactive assay in order to directly measure Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase as a functioning protein.

After I had performed research for two semesters, I applied for a SUNY summer research fellowship. Developing the summer research proposal was a challenging but valuable experience. I was grateful for the opportunity because if I pursue a career in research, I will have to write grant proposals on a regular basis. I was awarded a fellowship, lived on my own and worked in the lab all summer learning how to spread my wings. Upon returning to campus for the fall semester, I submitted my work for presentation at a research symposium in Albany. My poster was selected and off I went to Albany! Presenting to the state legislators was an intimidating yet liberating experience. I connected with other research students and professionals from Fredonia and across NYS. I met others who were passionate about doing research and learned about their projects. I am very grateful that I have had so many great opportunities to expand my abilities and test myself.

Throughout my time doing research at the Fredonia Biology department I have grown tremendously. At first you wonder how you will ever be able to do the things you see students above you doing. But in time, and with much help from the professors, I gained the confidence and knowledge necessary to perform extractions and experiments that I never thought I would do. Dr. Harrington has challenged me by having me develop protocols and search for answers as a real scientist would. He guided me through concepts beyond my understanding and helped me perceive things in a way that I never thought to see before. It was this coupled assistance through the known tough subjects with the encouragement to face the unknown challenges that I feel Dr. Harrington, and the entire staff at the Biology department, have helped me understand what it truly means to be a leader and a scientist. My goal is to eventually obtain my PhD and become a college professor. Doing research as an undergraduate has prepared me for my next steps towards this dream.

Michelle Sudyn
Molecular Genetics major, Class of 2013

Biology Department

  • 221 Science Center State University of New York at Fredonia Fredonia, NY 14063

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