Hello darkness, my old friend. But no, really, hello everyone.
My name is Andrea Reynolds. I am a biochemistry and biotechnology major at Minnesota State University Moorhead. By credits I was considered a senior last semester, but I will graduate next May and I am very excited about that. I am a non-traditional student and have been working on my degree since 2011 so it’s been a long time coming. I am originally from Sioux Falls, SD but currently reside in Fargo, ND for school. (Fargo-Moorhead is one big metropolis separated by a river. You’d never know you’re even crossing the state borders). And no, Fargo is nothing like the movie.
I’ve always been enamored by the ocean and coming from the Midwest I was not exposed to it as much as I wish I could’ve been growing up. There’s nothing quite like an ocean view. I chose to apply to this REU because it was near the ocean and they had mentors who dealt in organic chemistry, which I think we can all agree is life’s greatest joy. Lately I had been thinking of pursuing a graduate degree in biogeochemical processes and anyway I can apply that to the water is a plus. So this summer I will be working with Dr. Zhanfei Liu in his lab where he works to understand organic biogeochemical processes.
From what I understand so far, my project will revolve around a polypeptide called trileucine. Before I got here, one of the grad students in my lab, Kaijun Lu, discovered that trileucine might exist naturally in seawater. It’s not actually definitive yet of the structural makeup of this trileucine compound; it could be actual leucine-leucine-leucine or it could be some isomer. The first part of my project is to compare the sample taken from seawater and compare it to a stock standard of trileucine using LC/MS. If it turns out that it does in fact exist naturally in seawater, the second part of my project will be to observe how fast the compound degrades.
I am excited to apply organic in a more biochemical way. Previously I have done research with organic compound synthesis, which is also very interesting but there’s not much biology involved. I’m excited to use new machines, learn new techniques and apply classroom knowledge to real life science research.
I’ve done more fun things here already in the past week than I have done living in Fargo for the past two years. But maybe that’s not hard to do when you live in Fargo. We went kayaking on the Laguna Madre (I think that’s what it was) last week which was amazing because I love kayaking. All of the fellow REUs here are awesome and we’ve been getting along well. I’m finally getting the dorm experience I always missed out on because I was a non-traditional student. I always thought I would hate it but it’s actually not too bad. But when you have ocean views outside of your dorm, how bad can life be? I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer! Stay tuned!