Friday, November 22, 2013

Moving from snails to worms

After a year and so in the Collin Lab at Panama, I joined every possible project in the lab. And I tried all the possible things you can do in the vicinity of Naos and Cerro Ancon. Introduced extensively by Gina, Ancon was the home for many of the STRI interns and fellows: La Jaula. 

(La Jaula, Apt. H)

Independently of the space, it gather together some of the most remarkable interns and friends of the Collin Lab during my time there: Olaf, Victoria, Gina, Abby, Abrial and Robin. Together we were often found having potlucks and playing guitar.

Meanwhile in the lab, me as Costa Rican, wasn't refer by my first name (Allan), but usually by the name of "El mae" (=dude, in CR). Back there in Naos, I took care of the hundreds of snails and their food.


(Naos, animal and marine algae room)

Mostly based on the Pacific beaches of Veracruz and Venado, I was part of maybe all the sampling trips. Including the Venado marathons through the dry and rainy seasons. As a result of that, my water shoes give me a very distinct tan line. But thankfully, during my time there, I met incredible people and I gained an amazing experience which help me pursue my next step...GRAD SCHOOL. 

Because of Rachel I met my new supervisor, Néva Meyer. So, past July I came to Worcester, Massachusetts and became a PhD student at Clark University. I joined the Meyer Lab, where we work on one of my favorites groups of animals... ANNELIDS. Néva works with neural development on the charismatic marine worm Capitella teleta

(C. teleta and its sibling species live in the intertidal and shallow water mud of the East Coast. Me, Néva and Craig (Néva's husband and also a developmental biologist) went down to Sippewissett salt marsh to collect some mud (=food) for our colony in the lab)

(yeah, of course some Crepidula...)

Using modern molecular techniques, such as in situ hybridization, antibody staining, microinjections plus fluorescent and confocal microscopy, we are trying to understand how the central nervous system develops and how it can be compared among other animals. 

(Ventral view of a stage 9 larvae of C. teleta. Green shows acetylated tubulin (ciliary bands), red shows serotonergic neurons (annelids and molluscs, yeah, slipper snails too!, have a ventral nerve cord)

Meanwhile, I am narrowing down ideas for projects,  trying to get used to the cold of New England and learning a bunch of excited EvoDevo topics as well as more and more molecular techniques. That's for now. Pura vida.

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