Written by Brandi Feehan
Hey all you posh pigs and piglets! Even with social distancing, stay at home orders and travel restrictions, The Lee Lab has been keeping busy, and I’m excited to introduce myself and share an update on my work. I joined The Lee Lab in January after rotating in the fall 2019 semester to find a good fit for my genetics PhD. I’m no stranger to KSU: I’ll be a triple crown K-State wildcat after my PhD! My passion for pigs and animal health research started in my undergraduate when I interned with Merck Animal Health. During my time at the research facility, I loved working with the pigs, and the experience fueled my enthusiasm to learn and support these animals.
Although I’m new to our lab, we already have some great news: Global Food Systems awarded The Lee Lab a grant to support my swine microbiome studies! So I’ve been lucky enough to be keeping busy collecting fecal samples. I know that doesn’t sound glamorous, but the pigs are adorable, and we are going to make some great investigations to support science surrounding swine production, digestive microbiomes and nutrient utilization. Going to see the pigs is the highlight of my weeks now that we’re home-bound (but let’s be honest the pigs are fun and cute so it’d probably be the highlight anyways). My 10 piggies are very rambunctious and curious; they love distracting me by chewing on my boots or randomly taking off running. Just writing about them has me grinning from ear to ear. Soon I’ll be done with collecting samples and onto lab work, but for now I’m counting down till I get to see my pigs again.
Stay safe everyone!
Written by Abigail Kamke
This January, I was selected to attend the 2020 Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. I and four other Kansas State University students were chosen by the Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry for this honor. In the couple months prior to the event, I was able to finish extracting the microbial DNA of the Colby site, Andropogon gerardii root samples. With the aid of the K-State Integrated Genomics Facility, we were able to get quick DNA sequencing results. Finally, with help from my wonderful Lee Lab team, I was able to put together a detailed research poster to present.
On March 4th, I headed to the Capitol Building in Topeka, KS. We were directed to the beautiful 2nd floor of the Capitol Rotunda for setting up our posters. Pictures were taken with my fellow KSU students, and then certificates were awarded to the student presenters from each of the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) public four-year universities. After a short break to view the other students’ research posters, the poster session began. I was able to speak to lobbyists, senators, and house representatives involved in our Kansas legislature. Dan Kerschen, the senator from my home district whom I had sent a personal invitation to, went out of his way to meet with me and hear about my research. It was a very rewarding experience to present my research about a vital prairie grass facing the effects of climate change to our legislature. Without this grass, we would lose a main soil erosion combatant and a major livestock food source. It was wonderful to be given a chance to speak out about the necessary research the Lee Lab is undergoing to preserve our Kansas prairies.
Written by Lauren Anderson.
The main project our lab has been focusing on especially our undergraduate students is the topic of plant-soil microbiome specifically the rhizosphere and phyllosphere microbial composition in relation to the microbiome function for climate variation across the Great Plains grassland. Our team has collected many samples across Kansas and southern Illinois. We have been extracting DNA from those samples and have sent them to be sequenced for further analysis. The goal of this research project is to understand the host-microbial interactions in relation to the functions of the plant corresponding to different climate conditions and how it may enhance its drought resistance.
Abigail Kamke, pictured above, is one of our undergraduate research students that is involved with her part focusing on the rhizobiome diversity and its impact on drought resistant in Andropogon geradii. She personally worked on the rhizosphere portion specifically the samples that were collected from Colby, Kansas. Due to her exceptional work, she was selected as one of the five undergraduate research students from Kansas State University to go to the undergraduate research day the Capital in Topeka. In Topeka, she will present them with her findings and results from her research project along with many other undergraduate students across the state of Kansas.
Since August 2019, Shiva has been hard at work! He has since then collected all his plant samples for the first growing season - these included roots, leaves and soil samples from 4 different sites across the state of Kansas and Illinois. At the end of the season, he had collected a total of 480 roots, 480 leaves and 40 bulk soil samples. However, that is only the start :)
Now, Shiva is busy in the molecular lab extracting microbial DNA from these samples. It is has been a long semester for him as he juggles between course work, teaching as well as research, and of course play! Life as a graduate student is not easy, and it takes a lot of discipline, hard work and determination to forge ahead. Shiva definitely hits all the right notes, and we are eagerly looking forward to his success in the near future.