Alexis Galaini '15, Biology; mentor Professor Christine Buffinton
Alexis developed a histological tissue process for fixing and clearing embryonic mouse hearts so they could be imaged whole-mount on the inverted confocal microscope in the Department of Biology Imaging Center and worked with technicians at the Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Medical Center, to implement this procedure. Alexis also designed a specimen chamber, mounting procedure, and laser protocol for the confocal. Three-dimensional reconstructions of the hearts were done in Amira software with a procedure developed to compare relevant anatomical parameters between control and mutant hearts.
My research project has taught me many valuable skills and given me new insight into what path I want my career to follow. I have experienced first-hand the art of true scientific collaboration as I worked with my Bucknell mentor (Professor Christine Buffinton) and with her colleague at Geisinger (Dr. Anne Moon). We gained crucial knowledge from Dr. Moon's lab as well as procured necessary specimens and reagents from them, such as the embryonic mouse hearts. It was interesting to listen to the different perspectives of these two women and then synthesize key points from each so that I could make the best decisions possible for the progress of my project. We made some good headway over the summer, but our work is far from done. We will continue to work through the project's new challenges throughout this semester and I'm excited to see what results we get! As for my career, while I'm not entirely sure what I want to do, I found that I enjoyed the problem-solving atmosphere of the research environment as well as, specifically, the intricacies of microscopy and 3D reconstruction work. I do sincerely hope that someday, I can take these skills I have learned from lab and utilize and hone them in my career!