Genetics student Ashley Tuffin has been nominated for a 2018 Sandwich Placement award. They are undertaking their placement at The Morton Arboretum, Illinois, USA.
Supervisor, Dr Andrew Hipp, nominated Ashley for the award, saying “Ashley is one of the most exceptional undergraduate students I have ever worked with. They have assumed an extraordinary amount of responsibility that they execute with independence. They have had to not only learn their work but also train others to assist them in it. They are a model student and enabled us to do work that we absolutely would not have gotten done without them.”
Explaining more about the work undertaken during their Sandwich Placement, Dr Hipp explained that they have had two major projects. First, Ashley assumed lead responsibility for a major biomass collecting experiment in an experimental prairie planted on the Arboretum grounds. This was a 3.5-month project that entailed learning and perfecting biomass collecting protocols, including plant identification for approximately 110 North American species. Ashley had to train volunteers and contract workers in these protocols as well as conduct field collections. These collections were then dried, collated and analysed. The analysis and writing up of their findings is on-going.
The second project is an oak genomics and population genetics project that Ashley began recently and will continue until the end of their sandwich placement. In this project, they are working to extract DNA from leaves of 300 oak trees; learning and optimising HybSeq genomic protocols as well as generating genomic libraries for these 300 oaks. Following this, they will sequence these genetic libraries and assist in the bioinformatic analysis of the genomic data. In addition, Ashley participates in ongoing curatorial work in the herbarium, attends weekly staff meetings, and audits a graduate-level phylogenetic statistics course. These valuable skills will undoubtedly be useful as Ashley completes their Genetics degree and develops their career.
Congratulations to Ashley on such a successful Sandwich Placement.