Mentor: Dr. Charlie Baer
College of CLAS
"I have always been fascinated by genetics and science in general. I thought it would be a great experience to be able to work in a lab and learn from hands on experience."
Hobbies and Interests
Testing Models of Mutational Architecture in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
Mutation is the ultimate source of genetic variation: without mutation there would be no evolution. Understanding evolution therefore requires understanding the cumulative effects of mutation – the rate at which mutation introduces genetic variation into a population, and the distribution of phenotypic effects of new mutations. There are alternative models that are commonly employed in evolutionary genetics, which lead to different predictions about genetic variation in populations and the long-term trajectory of evolution. Understanding which model(s) best describes reality would be a significant contribution to evolutionary biology. We will mutagenize (using ethyl methane sulfonate, EMS) three replicates of two strains of C. elegans and their wild-type progenitor. The strains are FK229, a large body type strain, AZ30, a small body type strain, and N2, the wild-type progenitor. Following the mutagenesis, we will measure 10 individual offspring from each of 50 individuals per mutagenized replicate at a standardized developmental stage (young adult, 72-hrs post-hatching), for a total of 3000 worms measured. Then, we will analyze digital images using an online application, WormSizer, in order to create an experimental comparison of influential competing models of evolution.