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Genomics Projects at the Calgary Youth Science Fair

Genome Alberta is a proud sponsor of science fairs in Alberta. I had the opportunity to talk to some students at the Calgary - 2007 regional fair who brought in projects related to the science of Genomics.

This year's top of the fair and recipient of the U of C's Chancellor's bursary, Emily Cooley, was also recipient of Genome Alberta Senior Award. Her project on Embryonic Stem Cells and Viral Internalization has significant implications. In her project, Emily was looking at a phage display technique in which the phage gets internalized into the stem cells. The second significance is the technique of biopanning in which the phage non-binding phages are washed away and only those that are bound are captured. Through successive rounds of enriching, the pool of the phage that contains specific DNA sequence is increased. Emily's major contribution at this point was to find appropriate buffers which strip off the external phages without destroying the delicate stem cell.

In short, when the phage binds to the surface of cells, it contains the DNA which codes for the protein within. By looking at a number DNA sequences withing the phage, display libraries are produced. These display libraries are extremely important in genomics and proteomics research. In Emily's research, she has found a way of doing this with the stem cells related to cancer.

Image of Emily Cooley
Emily Cooley at the Calgary Youth Science Fair - 2007

Genomics Studied at the Elementary Level

Grade 5 student Ebony Campbell did a research project producing a fine display of information with her project investigating Genomics. She was able to find some of her information in books, magazines and DVD's. But it was of great interest to me that most of her work came from the web sites related to the family of Genome Canada including the various regional Genome centres.

Image of Ebony Campbell
Ebony proudly talks about her project on Genomics

In a very impressive elementary experimental project, Jordan Ng extracted DNA from onions. She found the ideas and description of the technique on the internet. She chopped up a few onions in a blender, added a detergent/salt solution and then strained the mix. After treatment with meat tenderizer, she then used ice-cold ethanol to create two layers in the test tube. When I asked to see the DNA, she proudly held up the test tube showing the DNA between the two phases.

Image of Jordan Ng
Jordan isolated DNA from Onions

At the Junior/Intermediate level, Katherine Nguyen and Tonilynn Chua did a research project looking at Chimerism and found considerable information about this interesting topic. They wanted me to know that there are very specific differences between chimerism, mosaics and hybrids. Additionally, they were knowledgeable about the most recent research linking fetal chimerism to autoimmune disease and cancers.

Image of Katherine Nguyen and Tonilynn Chua
Katherine and Tonilynn are Junior Experts on Chimerism.

I also interviewed student Ana Angela Lopez Quiroz, winner of the Grass Roots NW Environmental Awareness Award. Her project looked at selecting microorganisms with genes for high CO2 efficiency with respect to photosynthesis. She used differing techniques to select and force expression of the genes which will convert the CO2 . Her vision of the long range outcome of this type of research is the use of ponds and sloughs to as CO2 sinks.

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Ana Angela discusses her genetics project.

Student Dennis Brown was awarded the Genome Alberta Elementary project for his project on DNA and Tallon Smith and Min-Ju Lee with a project on Stem cells were awarded the Genome Alberta Junior/Intermediate Award.

Image of Dennis Brown
Dennis Brown is proud to receive the Genome Alberta plaque for Top Elementary Project.

Dennis told me that he “became interested in DNA last year when I did a project on DNA and I extracted DNA from a strawberry. This year I wanted to focus on how police use DNA to identify someone. I researched DNA, DNA fingerprinting, and how police use DNA to identify someone. I found out that everyone's DNA is unique except for identical twins. I discoverd that police use DNA to identify someone or to see if someone is guilty or innocent of the crime. As part of my presentation I demonstrated how DNA fingerprints are made in the crime lab using a model I created.”

Image of Min-Ju and Tallon
Min-Ju and Tallon are congratulated for Top Junior/Intermediate Project.

With Genome Alberta's involvement with regional Science Fairs, there has been increasing numbers of research and experimental projects in the field of Genomics. We are pleased to be involved and to encourage students in this new and exciting

Genomics Projects at the Calgary Youth Science Fair

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