STOCKTON — Two Stagg High School students discussed their scientific findings after a two-week biotechnology program at Lawrence Livermore National Lab on Friday afternoon.
Junior Samuel Cornelison and senior Martha Valencia, along with teacher Marcus Sherman, showcased a poster with findings on isolating a protein of interest.
“The genes we are looking at are duckweed,” Sherman said via email. “Specifically, the genes that produce carbohydrates from photosynthesis. Duckweed produces a tremendous amount of carbohydrates, and duckweed may be a possible source of far more sustainable bio-fuel versus corn.”
More importantly, he said, students are learning college level biotechnology and manipulating all of the genes and laboratory procedures.
Sherman was asked by Dr. Joanna Albala, an education outreach manager within the University Relations and Science Education Program at Livermore, to bring two students to the lab this summer for work in biotechnology.
The program, in its fourth year, is co-run by Rutgers University and the Livermore lab. Students work intensely with two instructors who have been trained at Rutgers, Jeff Austin from Modesto High School and Erin McKay from Tracy High School, Sherman said.
Those two weeks are combined with lecture on biotechnology as well in working in the labs, including DNA analysis.
“This is the first time SUSD students have been involved in this program, and is an enormous achievement for them and for the district, especially since this curriculum will be continued this school year,” Sherman said.
The program also is helping Sherman get a huge jump on improving his teaching, and he said he will incorporate this sequencing into his Biotechnology class in the upcoming year, using Cornelison and Valencia to help other students proceed through the sequencing.
“And, if all goes well,” Sherman said, “they may become published in a peer reviewed journal.”