Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meet Team Marmot: Back in the lab with Taylor Cook

Hi, my name is Taylor Cook. I’m a third year student studying Biology and Biomedical Research here at UCLA. I started working in the Blumstein lab this fall 2010. I’m working under the mentorship of Dr. Raquel Monclus on her project analyzing levels of stress hormones in marmots. We measure the hormones from fecal samples taken over the previous summer. Extracting the hormones from the feces is a really neat process. First we have to clean the grass and hair out of the sample, which can get a little messy. Next the samples are heated and centrifuged with alcohol. The hormones dissolve into the alcohol layer, and once the alcohol is evaporated off, we are left with a thin layer of hormones. The final product is then sent off to be analyzed. When we have all the samples done, it will give us valuable information on how marmots deal with stress. We will be able to see how handling affects their stress levels, among other factors. It has been fantastic getting to know Team Marmot and learning from all of their experiences. I’ve learned so much about marmots! I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent in the lab, doing the extractions is really fun. It’s a great feeling getting hands on experience, and contributing to such an interesting and relevant project.

~Taylor Cook

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