Carol Chiu, 2016, Chemical and Biological Engineering
For my PEI internship this summer, I focused on two projects in the Geosciences Department. My first project was to study nitrogen fixation occurring in microbial samples taken from Sippewissett Marsh in Massachusetts and the Everglades in Florida. I measured the N2 fixation rate in these samples using the acetylene reduction assay (ARA). My second project was to isolate and identify a siderophore or Fe-binding complex produced by the purple nonsulfur bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris under Fe-deplete conditions. Throughout this project, I obtained a diversity of skills such as cell culturing and harvesting, cell counting, protein and pigment extraction, microscopy, using the GC-FID, using the spectrophotometer, and performing the CAS Assay and BCA Protein Assay. Nonetheless, I believe that the most important skill I obtained as a result of this internship is the ability to troubleshoot equipment and interpret experimental data. My wonderful experience doing research in the Geosciences Department this summer has encouraged me to continue doing research with R. palustris during the academic year. Currently, I am studying the potential of the bacterium as a source of biofuel for my junior independent work.