Chris Krasniak ’16 was at the MDI Biological Laboratory, working to identify the role of a protein in the kidney’s filtration system. In another lab nearby, a group of incoming Colby students was squinting at pipettes, slipping tubes into centrifuges, and readying animal samples to be identified genetically and added to a species database. “Yesterday we extracted DNA,” explained Caitlin Farrington ’18. “It’s a long process.”
Through Colby’s relationships with premier research facilities including MDI Biological Laboratory, the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Colby students like Farrington and Krasniak are working closely with accomplished professors and researchers on world-changing biomedical projects that will prepare them for science at Colby and beyond.
Down the road at the Jackson Laboratory, a sprawling genetics research facility, research assistant Dan Sunderland ’14 was explaining his work on the possible genetic causes of glaucoma.
“I feel like I was very well prepared [at Colby],” he said. “Between the classwork and the lab experiences that I was able to have, it’s put me in a really great place to go straight into a position like this.”
That path is expected to widen as Colby reaps the success of grants and donor funding, and strengthens and builds its connections to three of Maine’s world-class research facilities.
In June MDI Biological Laboratory was awarded an $18 million grant to fund its work with Colby and a dozen other Maine universities, colleges, and research facilities. Included in that grant was $500,000 for work done by Assistant Professor of Biology Tariq Ahmad, who is researching genetic causes of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.