Genetic Engineering Technology and Evolution

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Phil Paulson's ILABS class at went on a field trip to the University of Iowa to see the Genetic Engineering Facilities and the Natural History Museum to research more about genetic engineering technology and about the evolution of living things on earth. The field trip was chaperoned and guided by Phil Paulson (biology ILABS instructor), Brad Schoon (earth science ILABS instructor) and Jenny Young (ILABS coordinator).

The itinerary for the day (April 14, 2000) included visits to the following genetic engineering facilities: DNA sequencing lab, gene targeting lab, image analysis lab, NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) and the field museum.

As the class traveled to Iowa City the students were divided into teams, and Mr. Schoon had them do team building activities such as the name game.

When we arrived, our guide, Jeanne McCabe (Research Administrator), directed the students to the different departments of the engineering facilities. A professor from each department explained their area of research.

We visited the gene targeting core facility represented by Dr. Baoli Yang. He demonstrated his gene transfer techniques by using mice.

We visited the gene therapy vector core facility represented by a co-worker of Beverly Davidson. He showed the students engineered viruses using a digital scope cam.

We visited the DNA facility represented by Kevin Knudtson. He showed the students the computer DNA sequencer.

We visited the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Resonance Facility represented by Bill Kearney. He showed the students the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance apparatus.

We interviewed genetics students that are PHD bound. They discussed how they arrived at their career choices.

After lunch, we visited the bird and mammal halls in the University's Natural History Museum. While visiting the mammal hall we saw a comparative view of skeletons of different types of mammals.

The very last exhibit was the sea bird story exhibit about Max Schlemmer who introduced foreign animal species onto an island in the Pacific that was inhabited by sea birds. The narrator explained how some of the indigenous birds were displaced by the rabbits that were introduced by Max. This exihibit showed the students how man can affect a natural ecosystem and change the course of evolution.

The students recorded all of their observations for the field trip. When the students got home, they contacted and asked questions of the professor that covered their own research area of genetic engineering via e-mail.