Bates Fellow Researches Salamander Genes

Bates College junior Rebecca Anderson, a double major in biochemistry and math, studied regeneration and regenerative medicine during a summer internship at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, funded by Maine INBRE at Bates.

She worked with Joel Graber, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist and director of the computational biology and bioinformatics core at MDIBL. With fellow scientists worldwide, Graber is researching the axolotl, a Mexican salamander that has the astonishing ability to regrow limbs and major organs.

Understanding the salamander’s ability to regenerate can help researchers “improve human wound healing and tissue scarring,” says Anderson.

She focused on developing a search tool that allows researchers to identify orthologs, genes that are derived from the same gene in a common ancestor. Specifically, researchers hope to find axolotl genes within the human genome and other commonly studied organisms.

Anderson got to talk with faculty and graduate students about their journeys and, at the end of her fellowship, gave a community-wide presentation as part of the Student Summer Symposium at MDIBL. That helped her to “communicate science effectively to a lot of different audiences.”

“It’s been really cool to see all these different areas of science that I can be a part of, and think about what I want to do in the future.”

Full article from Bates News

photo credit to Phyllis Graber Jensen, Bates College