Proteins are involved in an endless number of biological processes. However, their utility in engineering and medical purposes is limited by their fragility outside of their native environment. One method that scientists have developed to remedy this is by genetically engineering the bacterial spores of Bacillus subtilis to present the proteins of interest on their surface. In summer 2022, with funding from the Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) at UNH, I performed research that aimed to improve this technique. Our goal was to further develop a system to control the amount of protein expressed on the surface of the bacterial spore. After receiving unexpected preliminary results, I had to go through a period of extensive troubleshooting to try to find the issue, before eventually concluding I would have to restart my project. But it was through restarting my project that I would come to learn the most. In the end, I gained many new lab skills and knowledge about the nature of genetics and learned how to develop and execute a research plan while overcoming multiple challenges.
—Charlotte Thomas (Mentor: Kang Wu)