Kati Boles, Research Intern
Owensboro Cancer Research Center
Major : Biology
Hometown : Owensboro, Kentucky
Future Plans : Currently applying to medical schools
I am a biology major at KWC and work as a research technician at the Owensboro Cancer Research Program.
I had no lab experience other than in the classes I have taken, such as Organic Chemistry and Genetics.
These classes equipped me with knowledge and interest in this field, along with the basics of lab work that enabled me to get this position.
I have learned an enormous amount since working for Dr. Davis in his lab.
The first project I completed at OCRP was on the optimization of the extraction of lunasin from soybean flour.
Lunasin is a cancer-preventive peptide found in soybeans and other plant products, which makes them extremely healthy.
My project focused on optimizing the extraction protocol to try to get the maximum amount of lunasin from the soybean flour.
I experimented with different extraction times, buffers, pHs and buffer ratios.
I learned it was possible to optimize this protocol further and that aspects of my protocol would be more beneficial when used on a large scale.
I presented this information on a poster at KWC Scholar’s Day last spring.
The project I am working on now is for the Alpha-1 Foundation grant and deals with creating vectors via cloning and testing the expression levels in plants.
The molecular cloning is completed in four main steps.
The DNA is cut into pieces with enzymes called restriction endonucleases, which recognize certain sequences of the DNA and cut it there.
In the next step, the DNA fragment is isolated by running it out on an agarose gel.
The DNA band can then be physically cut out of the agarose, purified and saved. This isolates a backbone, and an insert is put into the backbone.
In the ligation step, the parts I want to put together are combined, along with DNA ligase, which sews the parts together at certain spots.
Then, the plasmid obtained from the ligation is transformed into
E coli cells.
After they are grown up and prepped, they are screened for the plasmid I am trying to create.
These proteins in the vectors can then be checked for expression levels, purified and tested with biological activity assays.
I am proud to say I work at OCRP and thoroughly enjoy my job!
It is amazing to come to work every day and do something beneficial while constantly learning.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to work in this lab, and I am thankful to Dr. Davis and everyone else for believing in students and giving us a chance to gain experience that will benefit our futures.
I am also thankful that I chose KWC.
The classes and professors gave me a strong science background that has opened the door to many opportunities I would not have experienced elsewhere.