Aleksandra Szczuka, 2014, Chemical Engineering

The overall goal of my project in the Morel lab was to explore the accumulation of mercury as methylmercury in the environment. Alongside research scholar Jeffra Schaefer, I compared the rates of mercury uptake in the mercury methylating bacterium Geobacter and the non-mercury methylating bacterium Shewanella. This was done by comparing the amount of Mercury taken up in the presence of different thiols and various metals. While my work this summer does not necessarily point to the purpose of methylmercury formation, I was able to learn new laboratory techniques that included growing cells under anaerobic conditions, harvesting cells, and washing cells. Through this experience I gained insight into the ups and downs of experimental work and learned to adjust accordingly. I enjoyed my summer experience in the laboratory, and I plan on continuing and building on my project through the course of my senior year. My summer experience has influenced my decision to attend graduate school and pursue an environment-related degree.