UBC Michael Smith Laboratories, Vancouver, BC
I started working at the Michael Smith Laboratories, Canada’s first interdisciplinary biotechnology unit, under Joerg Bohlmann in January 2016. The Bohlmann Lab focuses on secondary plant metabolites and the role they play in plant defense. I’m working on a recently initiated project that examines the role of resin vesicles in the germination of conifer seeds. The seed coats of true firs, hemlocks, and western redcedar contain an abundance of resin vesicles that have been noted to reduce the germination of a seedlot when ruptured. The ecological and biological role of these specialized terpene containing structures is largely unknown, but hypothesized to function in defense against seed feeding pests and possibly play a role in germination. I am currently examining the constituents of these resin vesicles through the use of various microscopy methods as well as gas chromatography mass spectrometry. I have learned an incredible amount throughout this term in the lab, not only about different techniques but also about scientific communication and experimental design. The co-op program has given me the unique opportunity to get an immersive experience in the field of forest science research concurrent with my undergraduate degree and I’m looking forward to continuing my work with the Bohlmann Lab.