Janelia Farm is a research campus owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia. Janelia Farm Research Campus (JFRC) was created with the mindset that nothing should get in the way of science- that is, grant writing, administrative duties unrelated to scientific discovery, etc. should be eliminated. Thus lab heads and fellows who have been selected to work at JFRC are funded without grants, and there are many shared resources on campus as well as ongoing collaborative efforts.
I am working with Dr. Lynn Riddiford at Janelia Farm as part of the Janelia Undergraduate Scholars program. Fourteen undergraduates are currently at Janelia for 10 weeks, all in different labs that we applied to with specific project proposals. In the Riddiford lab I am working to answer questions about size assessment in Drosophila melanogaster, as well as feeding behavior in larval stages of the fruit fly.
Of the two things that determine adult size in animals, growth rate and when to stop growing, only growth rate is well understood. The question of how an animal is able to sense its size and begin to differentiate at the appropriate time is a question that has gone mostly unanswered. I’m using the powerful genetic tools of Drosophila melanogaster to help identify potential players in size assessment in the final instar of fruit fly larvae. In addition, I am studying foraging behavior in final instar larvae to identify any potential behavioral changes in feeding at different stages of development.
Janelia Farm is a 20 minute drive away from a metro that takes you into Washington D.C. I have been able to visit D.C. a few times already, including on the 4th of July. Obviously there is a ton to do in D.C., including visiting the Smithsonian museums, monuments and memorials, George Washington University, etc. I will be taking a trip to Boston, seeing Luray Caverns and camping with other undergraduates, and going to Busch Gardens.
It’s time to tend to my larvae, but I’d be happy to tell anyone who is interested in Janelia or my project more when I get home.