Student: Baylee Petersen, Undergraduate Student in Biology, University of Northern Iowa
Research Mentor: Dr. Joshua Sebree
Using Field and Laboratory Analogs to Understand Organic Pathways of Habitable Moons
In Spring 2020, I worked with Dr. Joshua Sebree on reconditioning a planetary atmospheric simulation chamber prior. When COVID-19 shut down the school, I helped research the similarities between terrestrial underground lakes and the icy moons of Jupiter. In Spring of 2021, I got the opportunity to conduct research under Dr. Marek Sliwinski. Throughout the semester we worked together doing plasmid extractions, until the end where I got to do it on my own using a midiprep kit. Although not everything always worked out how it was planned in the lab, I learned a lot about how things worked including how to run an agarose gel, how to use an Implen Nanophotometer, and how to adapt to things on the go. Both experiences led to me getting the opportunity to travel to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota where I got to work with fellow UNI students. In the cave, I was able to get very valuable field experience and meet the local cavers who map out the caves. I was part of a small group that climbed down to What The Hell Lake where we collected samples to be used this next semester in the lab. Along with the biology side of things of the trip, I got to experience the chemistry side as well. With multiple STEM fields working together, our group was able to conduct research that will provide insight as to what is in the cave systems and what is potentially in other extreme environments.