S6 pupils in Advanced Higher Biology received a visit from US based researcher Carol Dalgarno who was on holiday in Scotland from Boston, Massachusetts. Carol is a Research Associate in the Satija Lab at the New York Genome Center, a non-profit multi-institution hub for collaborative genome research and technology development located in Manhattan. She is also the daughter of David Dalgarno, Class of ‘76 and Chair of the College’s US Development Committee.

In the US, Carol studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Wesleyan University which during her degree programme she undertook research in molecular genetics and computational biophysics methods and her senior thesis used molecular dynamics simulations of the ribosome to study how the interactions between mRNA and the ribosome affect translation efficiency. 

Speaking to S6 pupils about her experience at university and her early career as a Research Associate working alongside post-doc researchers to develop novel single-cell sequencing methods, Carol said ``In a single-cell sequencing experiment, you can study the heterogeneity of the cell types found in a sample. Our lab's research focuses on developing multimodal single-cell methods where you can measure more than one assay in a single cell i.e. measuring both the gene expression and the protein levels from the same cell.” 

She added “My current project uses single-cell CRISPR screens to study signalling pathway regulation through genetic perturbations and the next step in my academic training is to apply to Ph.D. programs that can utilise the knowledge I’ve gained at the intersection of computational biology and molecular cell biology."

Miss Wendy McGregor, Assistant Head of Biology commented: "It was so inspiring to listen to Carol speak so passionately about the exciting and rapidly advancing field of single cell sequencing. This gave our pupils up to date research in a way which was easily accessible to them. It was a great opportunity for them to ask questions which they eagerly did."

Commenting on the visit, Darcy in S6 said “I found the talk really interesting. Some things I particularly enjoyed was hearing about the different methods of and reasons for the single cell replication, but also how it will impact wider society down the line. I also liked learning about her University education and the system they use, being encouraged to study a wide range of skills. Finally, learning about the different positions you can work your way through in the lab.” 

Another S6 pupil said, “I enjoyed learning about the wide diversity of study in a liberal arts degree which allowed Carol to gain a holistic study of multiple subjects of interest in the USA. Her research was fascinating and being able to hear about a topic (single gene sequencing) which is just at its beginning of its development excites me about the future of genomics. Furthermore, being able to see how the genomics I learned at higher links to real-life scientific development made me realise the importance of what I am studying at school. Combining computer coding and science is also something that intrigued me as the ability to develop faster results from genomics can lead to faster development in science which helps wider society.”

S6 pupil Stuart shared “The thing I found most interesting about Carol’s talk was about her work in the New York Genome Center. I really enjoyed the genomics topic in Higher Biology so hearing more about that topic in greater detail and how it's applied in modern research was very interesting.” 

At the end of the visit Carol said “Today, I have enjoyed a wonderful tour of the Robert Gordon’s campus. I have had a lively discussion with the Advanced Higher Biology pupils about single-cell sequencing and working in a biology research lab. I have been impressed with their questions, which showed scientific curiosity and included reflections on clinical applications, the accessibility of single-cell technology, and more.”