Biologists of Tomorrow

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Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique ability opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

What happens when eight high school interns meet at the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research? Answer: A mix of California condors, lab equipment, and hardcore genetic identification. Mrs. Maggie Reinbold, the Associate Director of Conservation Education at the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research, gave us the experience we will never forget.

Ready, Olivia? My fellow interns and I were more than enthusiastic about our own lab setups in the education lab at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

Ready, Olivia? My fellow interns and I were more than enthusiastic about our own lab setups in the education lab at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

California condors have an impressive wingspan of over nine feet! If you were to look up at the sky and see a condor from below, you would see the white, which is key in identifying the condor. If the white is closer to the shoulder of the bird, it is a condor. If it is further away from the shoulders, then it is a turkey vulture. In this picture you can see Mrs. Reinbold and my fellow intern Mark holding up an example of how large the California condor wingspan is.

California condors have an impressive wingspan of over nine feet! If you were to look up at the sky and see a condor from below, you would see the white, which is key in identifying the condor. If the white is closer to the shoulder of the bird, it is a condor. If it is further away from the shoulders, then it is a turkey vulture. In this picture you can see Mrs. Reinbold and my fellow intern Mark holding up an example of how large the California condor wingspan is.

Every strand of DNA contains four types of nucleic acids: guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine. These bases always pair with each other when DNA is being replicated. The replication of the DNA is crucial to the conservation of condors in that it will allow the chromosomes to be paired with each other and each individual condor can be genetically identified.

Every strand of DNA contains four types of nucleic acids: guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine. These bases always pair with each other when DNA is being replicated. The replication of the DNA is crucial to the conservation of condors in that it will allow the chromosomes to be paired with each other and each individual condor can be genetically identified.

We were given the opportunity to become biologists. We completed a module Mrs. Reinbold designed that required us to identify the genders of certain condors using their DNA. Isabella showed off her new skills in using a microscopic pipette as she practiced pipetting with different food dyes. After a couple practice rounds, we were eventually able to graduate to pipetting samples of condor DNA, primers, and polymerase.

We were given the opportunity to become biologists. We completed a module Mrs. Reinbold designed that required us to identify the genders of certain condors using their DNA. Isabella showed off her new skills in using a microscopic pipette as she practiced pipetting with different food dyes. After a couple practice rounds, we were eventually able to graduate to pipetting samples of condor DNA, primers, and polymerase.

It was really eye opening to be able to hold one of the primary reasons condors were nearly wiped off the planet. Since condors are scavengers and feed on the carcasses of other animals, anything found within the carcasses’ bloodstream would eventually be in the condor’s system. If a condor’s meal came from an animal that had been hunted using a lead bullet (as pictured above), the lead would eventually be in the condor’s system, which eventually resulted in death.

It was really eye opening to be able to hold one of the primary reasons condors were nearly wiped off the planet. Since condors are scavengers and feed on the carcasses of other animals, anything found within the carcasses’ bloodstream would eventually be in the condor’s system. If a condor’s meal came from an animal that had been hunted using a lead bullet (as pictured above), the lead would eventually be in the condor’s system, which eventually resulted in death.

Mrs. Reinbold prepared special e-gel pads. These pads contained a positive electrical charge, which attracted the negatively charged strands of DNA, once they were placed in the pad. Then, the strands would go through the pad, like a maze, and each individual chromosome would find its way to the positive charged bottom, based on its size.

Mrs. Reinbold prepared special e-gel pads. These pads contained a positive electrical charge, which attracted the negatively charged strands of DNA, once they were placed in the pad. Then, the strands would go through the pad, like a maze, and each individual chromosome would find its way to the positive charged bottom, based on its size.

Mrs. Reinbold demonstrates how we would insert our DNA samples into the e-gel pad. It was important that we accurately measure out the DNA so that the chromosomes would be in proportion and be able to find their way to the positively charged end of the pad. If the chromosomes took longer to reach the end, that meant the chromosomes were bigger, and vice versa. The size in chromosomes helped to determine the gender of our condor.

Mrs. Reinbold demonstrates how we would insert our DNA samples into the e-gel pad. It was important that we accurately measure out the DNA so that the chromosomes would be in proportion and be able to find their way to the positively charged end of the pad. If the chromosomes took longer to reach the end, that meant the chromosomes were bigger, and vice versa. The size in chromosomes helped to determine the gender of our condor.

We have a new biologist, everyone! My fellow intern, Wesley, measures out the DNA in his pipette before inserting it in the e-gel. It is extremely important for the DNA to be accurately measured because if it wasn’t, the reading can be less accurate. We don’t want to misidentify any condors here!

We have a new biologist, everyone! My fellow intern, Wesley, measures out the DNA in his pipette before inserting it in the e-gel. It is extremely important for the DNA to be accurately measured because if it wasn’t, the reading can be less accurate. We don’t want to misidentify any condors here!

And that’s a wrap! Mrs. Reinbold places our DNA e-gel pads under a UV light so that we could see how the chromosomes traveled down.

And that’s a wrap! Mrs. Reinbold places our DNA e-gel pads under a UV light so that we could see how the chromosomes traveled down.

Belle, Photography Team
Fall Session 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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