The pandemic has brought many changes this year. We originally planned to host summer interns in person, but instead organized remote internships. While we wish we could have met in person, one unforeseen benefit of doing internships remotely was the potential for students to pursue projects relevant to their communities and regions. This summer, we had the pleasure of working with three undergraduates who participated in the CU Upward Bound (CUUB) program as high school students. Each was paired with a graduate student mentor and carried out independent research while making an educational video inspired by their experience. Amy and Luke worked together to oversee this mentorship program. Here's what each of them did:
Chantelle Yazzie, mentored by Chelsea, is a student at Utah Valley University and member of the Navajo Nation. She designed a project around a native plant of cultural importance in her community,Thelesperma megapotamicum (Navajo Tea). This plant is used medicinally and also as a dye. She gathered samples from populations near her reservation and compared their dyeing properties and flavonoid pigment content. She is continuing this research with the aim to publish it in the future. You can hear about her work in this video she produced.
Mikayah Oxendine, who recently transferred from Robeson Community College to UNC Chapel Hill, spend the summer working with Sukuan on bioinformatics and carnivorous plants. Since she is majoring in information science, she learned the basics of Python. She also took advantage of her location in North Carolina to study local carnivorous plants, which are abundant nearby! Mikayah and Sukuan made this fun educational video about carnivorous plants, where they live, and the conservation issues they face.
Chandra Jacobs, an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Pembroke, worked with Jesse, to build a phylogeny of medicinal plants from plastid sequences on Genbank. Chandra's interests are in medicine and after graduating this December, she will be applying for nursing school. She and Jesse created this educational video to explain phylogenetics concepts and introduce some of the applications of phylogenetics in medicine, like tracing viral outbreaks (hello, COVID!).