FURSCA Feature: Allison McClish, '15
Briefly explain your FURSCA project.
The goal for my FURSCA project this year was two-parted. The first part was to compare the infection frequency of Wolbachia in local drosophila populations to the infection frequency found last year. To do this I set up traps in three different locations which I used to catch the flies. The ones caught were then tested for Wolbachia infection. The second part was to test these wild-caught flies for Cytoplasmic Incompatibility, which favors the successful reproduction of infected females over uninfected ones, since this mechanism may be a potential cause for the high infection frequency found last year.
What have you learned so far in doing your research?
I have learned the lab techniques for breeding and testing fruit flies, as well as the methods for trapping wild flies. I have learned some of the techniques previously, but this research has given me a chance to practice and refine those skills. I have also learned about studies that have previously been performed in this field of study, and this has helped point to further potential avenues of study.
Why did you pick this particular project?
When I am finished with college I want to work on genetic research. Dr. Roger Albertson was the professor for the genetics class which I took a few semesters ago. Since I knew that he worked on genetics and I already knew him because of the class, I approached him about working under him on genetic research. He agreed and presented potential avenues of study. I chose to continue the work that Isaac Versey-White did last summer (2012), and so the research I did this summer was a logical continuation of that.
How will this FURSCA project help you after Albion?
Any sort of research will look good on future applications to graduate schools or jobs. This particular research, being in the field of study I wish to pursue, further aids me by familiarizing me with methods and techniques which I may need in the future.
What's next for your project?
This summer I unfortunately had some inconveniences in that my traps provided no flies of the appropriate species outside of Albion itself. Further projects may set up traps in different locations or at a different time of the year.
Looking back, how has the project worked out?
Data-wise, the project was a relative success. The results we obtained showed negative results for the CI effects and showed a significant difference in infection frequency from last year. There were some significant variables that may have been effecting the CI crosses, however, which may have skewed the results. Similarly, the infection frequency for this summer was determined with a relatively small sample group from only one population of wild flies, since most of the traps did not produce flies. The infection frequency may be different in different locations. I did enjoy the project, though. The work was enjoyable, both in the lab and in the field. Overall, I had a lot of fun collecting my data and running my tests and with the project in general.