NCSCE Photo Contest Runner Up: Identifying GMO Sequences in Food

In a previous issue of our eNews, we featured the winner of NCSCE photo contest based on the theme of students engaged in active learning. As mentioned in that story, we received a lot of excellent submissions, leading to a very competitive voting process. Recently, we’re sharing the top runners up with the community. Today is our final runner up feature.


We’re sharing a photo taken by Dr. Karobi Moitra and submitted by Dr. Sita Ramamurti of Trinity Washington University. This course, Introductory Genetics, is designed to introduce the students to a conceptual understanding of molecular, evolutionary, medical and classical genetics with an emphasis on real-world applications. The main objective of the course is to learn how the understanding of genetics can be applied to understand the genetic basis of life on the planet earth and incorporates several intentionally designed SENCER modules. The students participate in civic engagement research projects in these SENCER modules and engage in raising awareness about environmental and civic issues such as genetically modified food being sold in supermarkets.


Students conducted a hands-on undergraduate laboratory research project using state-of-the-art technology to isolate and identify GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sequences from grocery store food items. Students engaged in a scientific inquiry research project where they gathered food items from the grocery store, and employed state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to extract DNA from food, they amplified the DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and used agarose gel electrophoresis to identify the presence or absence of the amplified GMO sequences. They subsequently presented their research on campus in a session entitled – ‘Frankenfood or Not? GMO’s in Food’ where they discussed their results and also the controversies surrounding genetically modified food. In the photograph the students are running DNA gels of the PCR product to detect the presence or absence of the GMO band.


The goals for the activity were to introduce students to undergraduate research, to engage students in learning various laboratory techniques related to real-world applications, to involve students in laboratory and field activities associated with civic issues, and to raise awareness for civic issues like genetically modified organisms in the community by having students discuss and present their work.


Thank you again to all of you who took the time to send in photos that communicate the student experience in SENCER courses! We look forward to featuring more photographs from our community in the future.

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