I began my study of Transgenerational-Immunity in the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta, in Professor Rosengaus’ lab last year. Essentially, I am studying how mothers can respond to environmental cues, like pathogens, and then somehow provision their offspring in a way that prepares the offspring to thrive in that environment. In March 2013, I was awarded the Schafer Co-op Research Scholarship, which has funded my current co-op in the lab and allowed me to work 35 hours a week on my project. Over the last six months, I gained a lot more data. Professor Rosengaus and I decided that I should apply to present at the 61st Annual Entomological Society of America Conference.
The conference was held in Austin, Texas and, thanks to the Honors Travel Grant I received, I was able to attend. I worked for a month with Professor Rosengaus running statistics with SPSS, creating graphs, developing my presentation, and practicing my delivery. After about ten drafts, we were satisfied with the quality, and I prepared to depart for Texas.
At the conference, I presented my slideshow and gave a ten-minute talk on my research. It went very well and I enjoyed that experience. Additionally, it was exciting to be able to talk to so many scientists, many who were studying problems similar to mine. I spoke to a professor from Dalhousie University who suggested an interesting protocol for measuring oxidative damage in the moths, a measurement that I previously couldn’t figure out how to take. The number of scientists at this large national conference, all of whom were willing to talk about a topic they were passionate about, was amazing.
The preparation for my presentation helped develop my public speaking abilities, and my experience at the conference inspired me to continue ahead with my project. The tight-knit community of scientists at the conference, who were so supportive and helpful, motivated me to continue on in the research process, even though scientific research can be discouraging at times. I plan to do an Honors Thesis in Professor Rosengaus’ lab, and am working on the beginning of a publication, which would illustrate the results I have acquired over the past year. My trip to Austin reaffirmed that the research I am doing as an undergraduate at Northeastern University is high quality and worthwhile.
Theodore Bowe, Biology