Alexis Burton '13

University of Naples Federico II - Naples, Italy

Major: Biochemistry, Italian

Universita' di Napoli "Federico II" is the oldest state university in the world. The department in which I worked was that of biological molecular sciences. My supervisor is a professor in this department and focuses on mutations in genetic material of various organisms. For example, we looked at the effects of mutations on   the hippocampus and the inner ear of mice. We also collected the muscles of zebrafish that underwent mutation change. A lot of our work consisted of collecting these tissues and immersing them in a resin that we prepared. We cut the resin using a precise diamond knife to prepare samples to observe. Our work was highly dependent on the technology of the electronic microscope. We often made trips to the university's botanical garden, where the electron microscope was located. This allowed us to look at the specimens. To a lesser extent, we used scanning electron microscopes to look at other types of specimens, such as bacteria, to get an idea of the overall shape of the samples.