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DNA Barcoding Project Identifies Endangered Species on Campus

by Janelle Hill Jan 15, 2020

The results are in for a DNA barcoding project conducted on campus last semester. 

Students in Dr. Lara Goudsouzian’s molecular biology class identified about a dozen endangered species and also found one critically endangered species. Two students, Kelsey Smith and Nathan Hwang, also have been invited to present their work at the Natural Science Research symposium at the end of the spring semester. 

“Not only did the students learn the techniques of barcoding, but they also helped their own community with their findings. This type of service learning is in keeping with our University’s Salesian tradition.”

 Dr. Lara Goudsouzian, assistant professor

The students used butterfly nets and shovels to collect their samples from the marsh behind the Dorothy Day Student Union. After breaking open the cells and purifying the DNA back in the lab, the students sent it off to a company that provides the exact genetic sequence, which they used to compare to databases. 

The students also shared their data with entomologists and molecular pathologists at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to discover whether the species were native, invasive, or extending into our area because of climate change.

For more photos of the DNA barcoding project, visit our Flickr album.