Recording from Neurons: Fundamentals of Patch-Clamp Neurophysiology

The purpose of this project is for the student to continue to learn how to record from neurons in brain slices using visually-guided, whole-cell, patch-clamp techniques.  The student will learn how to use a patch-clamp amplifier and its associated software begin trying to collect neurophysiological data.  We begin with understanding ohm’s law and applying this knowledge to a “model cell” (a resister and capacitor in parallel) to begin collecting simulated data.  After learning the software, we begin creating voltage-current plots to calculate the input resistance of the model cell.  The student will learn how to make electrodes and fill them with an electrolyte solution for neuronal recording.  The student will learn how to use the microscope to visualize neurons in brain slices and lower the electrode onto the cell to obtain an actual recording.  These are not trivial techniques, so a great deal of focus will continue to be spent on the technical aspects while a graduate student and/or technician actually prepares the healthy brain slices for recording.  Eventually, the student will learn how to prepare brain slices, but not until there is adequate mastery of the procedures involved in using the neurophysiology rig (microscope, amplifier and associated software, etc).

Applications of DNA Profile Sequencing in Forensic Investigation

The objectives of the current project are to ground truth current DNA methods in matching known to unknown profiles in a forensic context using standard sequencing procedures and protocols. This work will be part of establishing a new forensic science laboratory for the UWM Center for Forensic Science in the Department of Anthropology. One of the primary goals of the first part of the project is the development and validation of teaching protocols for future student laboratory training. Secondary objectives for the project therefore include having the SURF student mentor other students in the practice of these techniques in order for her to gain experience in laboratory leadership and demonstrate competency in learning objectives.  Methods will include developing protocols for DNA sequencing using gel electrophoresis and other known DNA extraction procedures. We will be using quantification methods including Qubit as well as amplifying DNA using PCR and other molecular techniques. Baseline reagents and DNA samples will be obtained from Fisher Scientific for the experiments. The student will gain proficiency specifically in a forensic laboratory setting, expanding her general biological laboratory experience and providing additional employment opportunities post graduation.

Confluence: Community, Collaboration, and Water Justice

Research assistants and I have been working with the renowned Brooklyn artist, Mary Miss, on the City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible through the Arts (CALL) and WaterMarks projects. We develop community and public art projects that integrate art and science to deepen relationships/connections between community members and their natural surroundings. Projects are offered and strengthened through partnerships with UWM’s Departments of Geography, Freshwater Sciences, and CBLLR; and with community organizations including Anchor Press, Paper and Print (formerly CCR), Lynden Sculpture Garden, the Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works, 16th Street Community Health Center, Pulaski Park Neighborhood Association, Kinnickinnic River Neighbors in Action, Milwaukee Water Commons, Milwaukee Turners, House of R.A.D., and Steamroller MKE. Our projects in 2021-22 will take place in Milwaukee’s northwest and south neighborhoods. Research assistants and project leads will offer papermaking, printmaking, Zines, and book arts activities to engage multi-generational participants. We will organize and participate in events that begin with presentations and discussions about environmental issues, offer creative hands-on activities, and conclude with celebrating and showcasing collaborative artworks. Projects will inform our creative research (personal artwork). We will share results through exhibitions, conference presentations, neighborhood events, and on the WaterMarks website. Student Tasks: We will work with partners and community members to develop and deliver art+science centered projects and workshops. This involves research (history of neighborhoods, environmental problems and solutions, and artistic media such as printmaking, papermaking and book arts techniques).