Winter Research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Madeline Michaud Class of 2021, Majoring in Biology

My funded internship took place at The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay, Maine. I was responsible for carrying out my own experiment with the help of my mentor, Alex. It was an incredible experience to learn how a professional laboratory worked and how to carry out a long-term experiment independently. The hypothesis of my experiment was focused around samples of arctic sediment and water samples Alex had collected the summer prior during his field season. I tested the correlation between the presence of microorganisms in sediment samples and the impact they had on the iron and sulfide oxidation rates in each of my test bottles. I am still in the process of editing my final paper in the hopes of publishing by the end of 2020, and I am continuing to learn more about the scientific process even in the writing phase.

One exciting portion of my internship was learning how to do DNA extraction for the first time. We dedicated an entire morning to our DNA work and while Alex worked on samples for a separate experiment of his, I worked beside him testing my own. Learning an entirely new technique was so much fun, especially because the classes I take at Wheaton do not focus on DNA. I also utilized Colorimetric Ferrozine Assay to identify iron levels which was really interesting and, again, new to me. Alex was a wonderful teacher and was very patient even as I made plenty of embarrassing mistakes throughout the duration of our time together.

On days when lab work was light, I was able to talk with other scientists about their ongoing projects at Bigelow. I found a couple of different labs there that I would love to collaborate with in the future and I made some great connections as well. I am so glad to have had such a great research experience so early in my career and I know this project will help me as I move forward in the field of marine science.

Sifting through sediment samples to remove rocks and other debris.