Scientist of the Week Dan Berg took a break from working in the lab to give Lawrence’s nonscientific students a glimpse of a day in the life of a scientist. Berg, a super senior in his last term here at LU, is a double interdisciplinary major in biochemistry and neuroscience.He is using this last term to finish up his honor’s thesis, which is based on continued research that was initiated by Professor Beth De Stasio. This research examines the relationship between a potassium channel, its interacting components, and the way in which these molecules are involved in the complex behavior of C. elegans, a model organism like the lab rat.
Last summer, Berg had the chance to travel to UCLA for the biennial international “worm” meeting with his research adviser. This meeting is a chance for scientists and researchers to present and share their findings with the larger scientific community. Berg was able to present a poster on the research that he was doing himself back in Appleton.
He described this trip as “a great experience; the worm community is known for its collective and cooperative nature that has only helped them to expand science to new frontiers.” While at this conference, he was also able to make several important contacts that will help him in the future. One of these contacts may allow him to become a lab technician at the University of Minnesota until he begins his graduate studies next fall. He hopes to continue and expand upon his knowledge gained through researching at Lawrence as he continues his education, eventually planning to get his doctorate.
So what is it that keeps this scientist interested in potassium channels, worms, and science in general? For Berg, it’s the promise of being able to visualize a more complete picture of what makes us tick.
The complexity of life exists with the smallest of parts coming together to produce macroscopic form. Although every discipline will be necessary to gain a full understanding of life, he feels that the molecular level can provide him with the most insight in piecing the puzzle together.