What a great weekend! Thousands of people attended the USA Science and Engineering Festival. There were exhibits and performances for everyone, every age and every interest!
The DiscoverGenomics! Mobile Lab was there – Pennsylvania Avenue with several other mobile labs from across the country. We were just down the street from the Capital.
Building upon our previous exhibits, people were exposed to how genomics is being used to better understand the microbial diversity of our world at the Institute. In addition, we looked at how microbes can be “put to work” via microbial fuel cells – even to facilitate the treatments of waste water. Fascinating!!
We started with exploring the amazing microbial world of the Rockville Campus storm pond. Greg Wanger was the master at the scopes. We had beatiful cyanobacteria from the green slime edge not to mention all the spirochettes and rod-shaped bacterium swimming by – even a few daphnia, worms and other organisms made an appearance as well!
From there, we learned how we can study these microorganisms from the enviroment through creating mini-eco systems with the pond mud. Its amazing that there are so many unknown bacteria. What are they doing?
We put them to work in the mud fuel cell. Here – we could actually measure their power. How do bacteria transfer electrons? What type are the most effecient? These are some basic questions we can answer with genomics.
Finally, we really put the bacteria to work with the waste water. You may recall, Orianna Brestchger posted “Waste-to-Electricity” in January. She wrapped up the exhibit with models of the fuel cell and data.
We had several JCVI staff helping Greg and Orianna: Crystal Snowden, Monica Thomas, Darryl Bronson, Jason Miller, Marcus Jones, Elaine Fox, Bea Gallogly, Matt LaPointe and Jasmine Pollard.