Bird Brains and Tech X

This past week we were tasked with going on stage in front of our peers and presenting an eight minute summary of our projects with nothing but a dry erase marker and a whiteboard. While I thought this experience was stressful to prepare for, I am thankful for being able to give an “old-fashioned” pitch of our work. It was interesting to see how much more challenging giving a talk is when your slides aren’t behind you. Personal reflection aside, one talk that captured my interest was George’s presentation on his work in the Mooney lab.

George is doing work with Zebra Finches and a mysterious (for proprietary reasons) biomarking drug called Technology X. Without declassifying anything important about it, Technology X is a drug that was developed with the intent of giving labels to different types of cells in the brain. If it works, it will allow researchers to better study the different parts of the brain on the cellular level. The Mooney lab isn’t responsible for developing this technology, however. They are focused on actually testing it out on live subjects. George’s job this summer is to perform careful neurosurgery on Zebra Finches and deliver Technology X to different parts of the brain.

This project is interesting to me for two reasons. First and foremost, one of my peers is performing neurosurgery on live subjects! Coming from a person who could barely dissect a pig fetus in high school biology, it blows my mind that George is able to work with that degree of precision, and keep his subjects alive after! Secondly, as someone who leans more towards the functionality of things in science, I was really interested in how Technology X works. Sadly I don’t have enough clearance to further probe its mechanisms, but it was still neat to hear about. Overall, this week was enlightening as I was able to see a wide array of the different projects going on in the B-SURF program. I find myself always being boxed into the same functional-type projects, so hearing more about applications and raw research was a welcome change of pace. I’m excited to see what my peers have to present at the poster presentation!

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