Biology major Brandon Herron spent 10 weeks this summer in a research internship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as part of an NSF funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), where he worked alongside graduate student Shasten Sherwell in the Rachael Morgan-Kiss Lab (Microbiology Department). Brandon discusses his internship below:
"My research project was studying the responses of autotrophic and mixotrophic algae to a simulated polar night. In this project, I took samples of algae and measured photochemistry and optical density; I also took chlorophyll extractions and measured the size and number of cells in an algal sample. The first simulated light period was of the fall, where the algae started off at 24 hours of light and slowly transitioned into 24 hours of complete darkness over a period of about two weeks. To simulate the polar night, the algae were transferred to flasks that were wrapped several times in aluminum foil and then placed into a box that was then placed in a cold room at 6°C. To prevent the algae from being exposed to photosynthesis-driving photons, a green light was used to take samples for the 28-day simulated winter period. After 28 days in the simulated polar night, the algae were transferred back into tubes into water tanks at 4°C for about a 10-day sampling period.
"Here at UNCP I am involved in research studying the floral preferences of native bees and honey bees for pollinator conservation with Dr. Kaitlin Campbell and Cody Eubanks. After graduation, I plan to go to graduate school to study deep-sea corals. For now though, I am involved with the Campus Garden and Apiary, as the manager, where we promote pollinator conservation by planting a variety of native plants and keeping several honey bee hives."
Brandon has a track in Zoology and will be graduating in May of 2020. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Brandon now lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.