“It was thrilling to be able to apply things I’d learned in regular coursework to projects outside the classroom.” —Robert Noel Chiagoziem Anigbogu

By Robert Noel Chiagoziem Anigbogu ’21

Maplewood, MN by way of Nigeria

Biology (biochemistry concentration) and religious studies

This past summer I had the privilege to work in Professor Sarah Boyer’s Lab. Professor Boyer is working on identifying and mapping species of harvestmen, members of the Opiliones order commonly known as daddy longlegs.

While I worked in her lab, we spent a majority of our time looking at two different methods that could be used to identify and distinguish different species of harvestmen, especially one called DNA barcoding. First, my lab mates and I had to extract DNA from specimens that were about the size of a grain of rice—and for some of which there was only a single specimen available. Then we looked at stretches of their DNA called the CO1 and 18S loci. Studying patterns in these sequences allows researchers to identify and compare various species at the molecular level, a concept we applied to harvestmen.

A lot of the protocols and equipment that I used in the lab last summer I’d already been exposed to in my first year at Macalester, especially in the Cell Biology and Genetics Laboratory Methods course. Having those skills going into the lab was very beneficial, and it was thrilling to be able to apply things I’d learned in regular coursework to projects outside the classroom.

I firmly believe that Macalester’s STEM majors are in the best hands. The professors are here to support everyone, and they all want to see their students thrive and go on to big things. The professors are consistently pushing you to your limits, but the beautiful thing about going to a small liberal arts college like Macalester is that my fellow students are in the same boat; it’s a collective struggle, which leads to exceptional relationships and eventual success.

The culture on campus during summer research was enjoyable. I got to know professors on a more personal level, more than I would have during the academic year, and it was always interesting to sit down with students in other labs and talk about their projects.

October 31 2018

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