Spending the summer at ACT in the “Biotechnology Camp”
The ACT summer camp “Introduction to Biotechnology", led by Dr. Mary Kalamaki, introduced high school students to concepts that are associated with biology, molecular biology, biotechnology, biochemistry and medical sciences. This new course offered two weeks of hands-on training on essential and current laboratory techniques used in microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. The program took place in the new state-of-the-art ACT Chemistry lab, where students completed several projects using equipment found in research laboratories and gained hands-on experience in laboratory techniques and practices such as spectroscopy, enzyme assays and the basic techniques of recombinant DNA technology.
Students, in one of their projects, isolated, characterized and molecularly identified bacteria from ice cream. They first isolated and characterized the bacteria morphologically (through the microscope). Then they performed biochemical profiling and got a tentative identification. Finally they extracted DNA from selected isolates, performed PCR analysis for the 16S gene and, after sequencing and a bioinformatics analysis; they obtained molecular identification of the bacteria.
Dr. Mary Kalamaki, Assistant Professor of Chemistry in ACT’s Division of Technology and Science is currently working on a collaborative project with colleagues from the School of Dentistry of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. They are taking tissue samples from surgery, and performing molecular analysis using ACT’s new, state of the art, real-time PCR machine. The goal is to identify genes related to wound healing and scar formation in patients following periodontal surgery. The preliminary data will be presented at the EuroPerio9, the world’s leading conference in periodontology, this June in Amsterdam. Submission of the results and analyses for publication in an international, peer-reviewed scientific journal will follow.
Next, Dr. Kalamaki will be exploring factors influencing the evolution of the microbial flora of raw milk using Next Generation Sequencing through an IRF Grant as part of ACT Internal Research Funds to work on microbial profiling of raw milk.
ACT is a premier teaching institution in Greece, and focuses on high level teaching and student development. In addition it incorporates research in its activities to further advance student learning and create new knowledge. A team of scientists of the ACT Science and Technology Department is starting a new project in the Fall aiming to investigate food safety practices in community meals (soup kitchens) in Thessaloniki. This is an innovative project, as not much information on the food handling practices of volunteers is available on a worldwide level.
There was a variety of amazing and attractive experiments that appealed to me except for the difficulties and the long procedure that we had to follow. I have never had such an experience in my life and I’d recommend anyone to join! It’s hard to say but I wanted to do more than two weeks…
Great experiments and fruitful science discussions. Congrats to the instructors! There was absolutely no drawback in the process of explaining the experiments. Great first year, good luck guys!
Very hands-on application in real life. [The program] definitely gave me a taste of different areas (bioinformatics, molecular biology, microbiology). I learnt important techniques that are taught in university. The instructors were very knowledgeable. Two weeks were not enough!