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Moravian College

Kaitlin Raseley ‘16

Major/Minor: Biology major/ Ethics minor
Hometown: Saylorsburg, PA
Project Advisers: Dr. Christopher Jones

"Mapping a bang sensitive gene in Drosophila melanogaster"

Briefly describe your project.

My project entailed a process to map  a mutation called bas in a fruit fly known as Drosophila melanogaster. This bang sensitive mutation causes the flies to become temporarily paralyzed while having a seizure when the vial is exposed to sudden shock such as vortexing. Human seizures are thought to be very similar to the seizing behavior expressed by bang sensitive fruit flies. Since about 75% of disease causing genes in humans have a homolog in Drosophila, my project can also be relevant to human research.

Describe the origin of your project.

The idea for the project was a collaborative effort. I had always been interested in Dr. Jones' research using bang sensitive flies, ever since I took his genetics course as a sophomore and genomics my junior year. This mutation called bas was discovered about 40 years ago, but the exact location of this mutation is yet to be determined. Since Dr. Jones had already began some research to narrow down this region previously, we decided to begin by replicating his experiments and then proceed from there.  

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

Dr. Jones is extremely knowledgeable on the subject, and is always willing to offer advice when it is needed. If I did not understand something I was never afraid to just ask for clarification. I have learned a lot of valuable information throughout the summer that will be helpful in future courses and possibly even a career.  

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

The biggest obstacle so far has been using deletion and duplication mutants to figure out if bas is in one of those segments. The deletions and duplications that were available to us were very useful and allowed us to narrow down the region quite a bit, but now there are no more that would be helpful. At this point new deletions have to be created which can take a bit of time and patience. This is the step we are at now.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

I knew I would enjoy this experience, but my love for research has surpassed my expectations. Genetics is definitely one of my favorite subjects and it is  amazing how things can be altered. Another thing I've realized through this process is that  one can never underestimate previous experiments and the methods they have used. It is so helpful to sit down and go through prior research with a similar subject.

What was the result of your project? Was it congruent with your hypothesis?

So far we have narrowed down a possible 355 genes to roughly 10 that could be the location of bas. Since there are no more available deletion or duplication mutants, we must create our own from here which will exceed the time given for SOAR.

Do you think you’ll be able to extend on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

Absolutely! I plan on continuing to work on mapping bas even after this summer is over. It's like solving a mystery. I would also be interested in seeing how different levels of nicotine could impact the severity of the bang sensitive flies' seizures. Not only is it interesting to use fruit flies, but it could apply to human research as well.