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Caleigh Buckmaster Conducts Genetics Research During Summer Internship

June 28, 2018

Caleigh Buckmaster, a biology major at Montana Western, is participating in a 10-week long internship this summer at the University of Montana in Missoula, Mont.

Buckmaster was born and raised in Dillon, Mont. and from an early age, planned to follow in her father’s footsteps and graduate from Montana Western.

At UM, as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, she will be testing RNA to determine which genes encode inflammatory cytokines, a signaling molecule that is released as part of the body’s inflammatory response to foreign materials. This study is also looking at the effects of exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes, a type of nanomaterial.

Nanomaterials are manufactured at a very small scale and certain types are used in products we use every day, including clothing, food items, and cosmetics.

According to Buckmaster, the study will help tie together data from past UM analyses.

Experience One, the University of Montana Western’s unique one-course-at-a-time scheduling program, offers students many opportunities to gain experience in their field well before graduation.

“Experience One has helped me with my time management skills which has proven valuable during my research. I also feel comfortable giving presentations because I’ve given so many in my science classes at Montana Western. This internship will allow me to think more critically about scientific questions, which will help me in the laboratory and classroom,” said Buckmaster.

During her internship, Buckmaster has gained knowledge on how to extract RNA from tissue samples. She has also learned how to use a bio-analyzer, NanoDrop, and an intricate qPCR machine that has 384 wells.

“I now know two main ways to make cDNA from RNA and another way to make cDNA using a kit,” Buckmaster said about her internship so far.

Over the past year, Buckmaster has tutored students in organic chemistry and biology.

Her courses at Montana Western and her summer internship at the University of Montana will help prepare Buckmaster for work in the field. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school with a focus on forensics.