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CBFG Profile: David Moulton (Class of 2012)

David Moulton photo

  • from Johnson City, TN
  • zoology major, with an environmental science co-major

"I came to Miami to get a great science education, and decided to major in zoology because of my fascination with animals, especially fish. My career goal is to study ecological issues in order to inform the management of fish species that are important for recreation and commercially. Because of this desire to contribute to conservation work, I added an environmental science co-major."

Research Experiences

"I've been fortunate to take advantage of several great research opportunities over the past few years. As a sophomore, I felt ready to join a research group on campus, and contacted a professor whose lab is involved in the conservation of greatly imperiled aquatic organisms. The focus is on invertebrates endemic to the desert southwest where water resources are under enormous pressure. I learned how to sort and classify these invertebrates from desert spring samples and did that for the rest of my sophomore and junior years.

David Moulton at TAMUG photo"The summer after my sophomore year, I had a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) internship funded by the National Science Foundation at Texas A&M University at Galveston. This is when I was trained in molecular genetic techniques and began sequencing. My project involved testing a novel method for isolating DNA from larval tuna and billfish, and using DNA melting methods to identify species of billfish. Near the end of the internship, I participated in a research cruise that went approximately 125 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico to collect tuna and billfish larvae, which was an amazing experience.

"After presenting my research at a symposium to conclude the internship, I was chosen to present my poster at an international aquatic sciences meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico in February 2011, which was another extremely fun and beneficial opportunity."

Genetic Investigation

"In May, I switched from classifying organisms to doing more genetic investigation. Since then, I've worked to extract, amplify, and sequence mitochondrial and nuclear genes of midge larvae and snails, with funding help provided by my status as an Undergraduate Summer Scholar as well as College of Arts and Science Dean's Scholar.

David Moulton doing research on the Black River photo"I also experienced the environment that my research focuses on, while assisting with a population survey of the Texas hornshell mussel on the Black River in New Mexico. While in the area. I visited many of the desert springs from which the snails and midge larvae were collected.

"The Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics (CBFG) has been of great assistance to my research. The staff is friendly and flexible, and has always been able to accommodate me if I happen to prepare my samples earlier or later than expected. In Galveston, there was no sequencing staff to perform the actual sequencing, and the highly expensive sequencers were often in disrepair, which would lead to bickering amongst faculty members. With the CBFG as its own entity and staffed by professionals, it provides personal access to many high-tech machines and assistance from knowledgeable and willing faculty and staff. These qualities have greatly facilitated the progress of my research.

[October 2011]


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