Dylan Harris, a senior nutrition major, is participating in the P2EP (Plant Pathways Elucidation Project) internship at the North Carolina Research Campus this summer. The program runs from May 21 through August 1, and is focused on exposing interns to various kinds of plants based research, as well as introducing the students to a professional environment.
Dylan was matched to work with researchers studying gene modification of soybeans to resist attack by their number one killer- nematodes. Interns have undergone training focused on genetics, biotechnology and basic lab techniques. Besides working on this specific project, Harris is also getting the opportunity to learn about resume building, teamwork, networking, etc.
Dylan Harris (left) pictured with Neha Mittal. Photo submitted.
Harris is working with his graduate mentor, Neha Mittal, and one other intern on a specific gene in soybeans. Prior to his arrival, Mittal and the primary investigator in the lab, Dr. Bao Hua Song, discovered a gene that was being expressed higher in a certain wild soybean as compared to their cultivated counterparts. This gene is involved in resistance to nematodes, a common parasite of soybeans, and releases a compound that is toxic to the nematodes, but that is known to have beneficial properties for humans. The goal of the project is the transfer of this gene from the wild soybean variety into the soybeans that are edible.
“This internship has given me more than I could have expected as far as exposure to concepts in plant based genetics research. I have learned how to extract DNA and run a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine on top of many other techniques. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in plant based research or even research in general. If I'd been asked what I'd be doing at this time a year ago, I would not have ever thought it would be this. It has truly opened up a new realm of possibilities and opportunities for me that I had not ever considered,” said Harris.
Harris has known for some time that he would be a dietitian and that desire has not changed. However, according to Harris, “This internship has opened me up to possibly pursuing a career in research, which is not something I had thought about before.”
Congratulations to Dylan for being selected for this prestigious internship and to all of our BCHS students who are serving communities, developing projects and furthering research through their internships this summer!