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Professor Boyer and two biology students co-author DNA barcoding research.
Biology professor Sarah Boyer, along with co-authors Alex Howe ’09 and Nathan Juergens ’11, recently published an article in the Journal of the North American Benthological Society on research that involves identifying species by sequencing the DNA, long bits of four-letter genetic code.
"Seeing the project from its initial design through to its publication takes you a step further than the classroom can."
Using DNA sequences rather than morphology (form and structure) to describe species is called DNA barcoding. Boyer’s research used DNA barcoding to identify juvenile freshwater mussels recovered from naturally infested fishes. The North American Benthological Society’s publication promotes the further understanding of aquatic ecosystems.
Howe and Juergens co-authored the article after spending recent summers as part of the research team. Juergens worked with Boyer for two summers, first with funding from Macalester’s Three Rivers Center and later with help from a Student-Faculty Summer Research Fellowship. Howe joined the project in 2008 and was supported for the summer by the Three Rivers Center.
“Seeing the project from its initial design through to its publication takes you a step further than the classroom can, and it married my previous experience with genetics lab work to my interest in ecology and environmental studies,” says Howe, who completed conservation internships for the Bureau of Land Management after graduation.
“One of the greatest benefits to attending a small school like Macalester is the more personalized opportunities for students. I’m thankful I went through the whole research trajectory as an undergrad because it will make the thesis process feel that much more familiar when I pursue a graduate degree.”