Baylor Blog: A Change of Scenery

Hello from Baylor University!

I just completed week four of what has already been an amazing research experience at the Baylor University REU program in chemistry. This week was filled with cool research and a few extra things to spice up the experience.

ThealamoFirst and foremost, the emphasis on conducting meaningful research has been high, and thus I have spent the majority of my time in the lab working on my project. This week was incredibly successful for me. Last week, I got my ligation to work, and this week, I screened those colonies to discover that about 90 percent of my E.coli colonies contained the correct plasmid, which meant I could move forward with my research. As I stated in week one, I am working with a new technique in molecular biology called the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing system.

I just completed creating the CRISPR part of the system. And we already have the Cas9 part, so this week, I was able to do some transformations to attempt to edit the E.coli genome. After spending the rest of the week working on prepping cells for these transformations, I finally got the transformations done and came in Saturday to find I had cells growing on all of my transformation plates.

This means there is a 65 percent chance (from literature) I’ve created the mutation in E. coli’s DnaB helicase I desired. This week will be spent amplifying the gene and using restriction enzymes to test if I created the change I believe I did. After that, I will move forward with expressing and purifying the protein for kinetic assays later this summer.

Outside of research, the rest of the week was also interesting. As usual, we had our weekly research talk. Dr. Bill Hockaday talked to us about his work with wildfire charcoals and how he uses the charcoal deposits to understand fire-climate interactions. However, what really made this week unique was that my PI, Dr. Trakselis, hosted a chemistry department volleyball tournament on Friday. Eight labs brought six players (per lab) to the student life center to play in a double elimination tournament. This was an awesome way to give everyone a break from being in the lab and to have fun. Our lab came in third.

Another fun change added to the week is that I decided to take the weekend away from research and take advantage of my proximity to some of the larger cities in Texas. My girlfriend, Emily Menendez, spends her summers in San Antonio with her parents, and so I drove to San Antonio and was able to see all that the city has to offer. I enjoyed great food and saw the Alamo, in a relaxing weekend away from the lab.

Week five is this week, and I look forward to doing some awesome research and learning a lot more about my field of interest. Hopefully next week, I can confirm I have positive mutations and can move forward with protein purification! Until then, have a great week!

-Preston Jones

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Written by
Nick Garrett

Nick Garrett is a communications coordinator in the Division of Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him at 706-446-4802 or

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Written by Nick Garrett

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