Zebrafish Lab : New Co-Curricular

News  /  by Neil Menghani '15   /  October 19, 2012

The Science Department has finalized its plans to make a new addition to the Kirby Science Center: the Zebrafish Lab. In the Winter Trimester, student research in this new facility will be offered as a co-curricular oppurtunity. This program will allow students to gain significant experience in scientific experimentation. Dr. Elizabeth Fox will lead the co-curricular program, while V Formers Aashna Mago and Prianca Tawde will be assisting students in the experimentation on the Zebrafish as a part of their independent study.

To foster school-wide involvement, the lab has been placed on the first floor of the Kirby Science Center, a development which is intended to enable students to freely observe the tanks and fish throughout the day. After installment, the lab will include 24 tanks of adult, larval, and infant Zebrafish. The fish population will come from Rebecca Burdine at Princeton University, who is affiliated with Lawrenceville’s Hutchins Scholars program.

Students who participate in the new co-curricular will be doing hands-on research with the Zebrafish. They will meet at the lab multiple times each week for ten weeks to familiarize themselves with the fish and perform various experimental procedures. These students can also come up with their own questions to explore and ultimately answer.

“This type of work will allow students the opportunity to create hypotheses, generate protocols, conduct experiments, and formulate conclusions,” stated Dr. Fox. “Hands-on research allows students to be curious and ask vital and interesting questions. Asking good questions (and then trying to answer them) is an important skill for any aspect of life.” It will be interesting to see what type of questions the student researchers formulated by their observation of the Zebrafish.

Last year, Mago and Tawde decided that they wanted to start a Zebrafish lab as an independent study. “Mid winter last year, Aashna, Dr. Fox, and I sat down and started researching the logistics of having a Zebrafish lab,” said Tawde. “After doing some research, we saw that experiments with Zebrafish are commonplace for high school students.” Mago and Tawde chose Zebrafish because they are optimal species for conducting research because their eggs hatch quickly and in large numbers, their development is easy to observe, and egg production can be manipulated with changes in variables such as light and temperature. They also develop similarly to humans and are, therefore, great in the context of practical application. The two seniors hope to research the effects the hormone serotonin has on embryonic development of these fish.

“Dr. Fox helped us start it as a winter term co-curricular so that we could introduce other students to Zebrafish research and hopefully establish a permanent group of students that would take advantage of the Zebrafish as a research tool,” explained Mago. In order to be a part of this project, students don’t need any prior experience in lab. Any eager student is welcome.

Fox also added that, “Mr. Brewer and myself have discussed examining metal toxicity in embryos, with Mr. Brewer looking at the chemistry while I look at the genetic responses and phenotypes.”

This new lab is positive addition on campus because students with a passion for biology can attain lab experience without leaving the School’s grounds. The new Zebrafish lab is a large step forward for student research at Lawrenceville.