Karlee Markovich is an Animal Facility Manager at MDI Biological Laboratory in picturesque Mount Desert Island. She specializes in regenerative medical research in animals, where she gets to work with exotic marine invertebrates such as zebrafish, axolotl, and African turquoise killifish. These animals are special because they can regenerate any part of their body, something us humans can’t do!
Day to day, Karlee examines the cells, genomes, and DNA of these animals, and compares it to those of a human, to see how we can translate the animals’ regenerative abilities to humans.
Karlee says MDI Biological Laboratory takes the best care they possibly can to make sure that the animals are safe and treated well. She says, “I love these animals so much, and if we’re going to be using them for our benefit and research to help out humans, then it’s my job to make sure they have the best life that they can have.”
Erin Bouttenot is an Indoor Air Quality Technical Manager at Northeast Laboratory Services. She helps us breathe clean, quality air, through finding dangerous invisible contaminants.
In her lab, she grows mold, bacteria, and yeast on culture media. She then uses that media in various settings to test the air for contaminants. Those contaminants are removed from the space accordingly, resulting in a healthier and safer environment, so we can breathe easy.
The different colors, shapes, and forms of mold never cease to amaze Erin. Since she gets to examine an ever-changing assortment of mold every day, she says she’ll never walk away from a day of work without learning something new.
Dr. Norman Moore – Global Director of Scientific Affairs, Abbott
Dr. Norman Moore is the Global Director of Scientific Affairs at Abbott. His company has played a vital role in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic through their diagnostic tests. These tests have had high demand throughout the pandemic, so much so that they had to build an entirely new factory.
Dr. Norman’s job is quite exciting because he shares these groundbreaking tests with people across the world. On any given day, he speaks with many people including members of the CDC, doctors, nurses, thought leaders, and school administrators. As a Global Director of Scientific Affairs, he educates people about all facets of the tests to ensure they are running the tests effectively and following the guidelines to receive accurate results.
Although the pandemic has undoubtedly been challenging, Dr. Norman says it’s also been very rewarding for his team to come together to play a crucial role in fighting the pandemic. Himself and his team of biologists, chemists, engineers, manufacturers, and technicians have brought their strong communication and collaboration skills to help others during this uncertain time.
This gives life to his words, “Science is a lot of communication. The best scientists are the ones who can talk to each other and figure things out together.”
Hands-On Activity: Exploring Cell Membranes and Coronavirus Inactivation
Following the scientists’ video presentations was an interactive hands-on activity, allowing students to see scientific principles exhibited in their own classroom. This year, the activity demonstrated how washing your hands with soap inactivates the coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are surrounded by the same type of membrane that surrounds human cells. To complete this activity, students were first tasked with creating soap-film membranes to mimic the membrane of a virus. They then performed several tests to discover what disturbs and inactivates the membrane. Unsurprisingly, one of the key compounds that does this is soap.
This activity aims to demonstrate that when one washes their hands with soap, the chemicals, bubbles, and foam are able to disturb the virus’ membrane, thereby rendering the virus inactive. This is why scientists recommend washing your hands frequently to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. This activity was fun for students and also acted as a timely, relevant reminder to always wash your hands.