On The Waterfront with GMGI: November Updates

2020 will be remembered as the year that saw a complete upheaval of daily life. Everyone needed to pivot and adjust — quickly — to a new normal.  

Here at GMGI, it was no exception. With the stay-at-home order implemented in the Spring, our research team lost valuable time in the Institute’s laboratories. Our Academy internships were cut short due to closings, and the graduation was both delayed and scaled down. 

Despite these obstacles and disappointments, the past eleven months have produced some incredible outcomes.

•    The Academy graduated its fourth class (with an impressive 78% graduation rate) and enrolled a full fifth class, which has maintained in-person learning without any positive COVID-19 cases to date.
•    We began the expansion of our Academy to create a new biomanufacturing learning environment, made possible by a grant from Governor Baker’s Workforce Development Cabinet. 
•    Our Science team continued its innovative research, cracking the lobster genome, understanding population genetics of North Atlantic Cod, and investigating genetic diversity of the tiny microorganisms that are vital to sustaining a healthy marine ecosystem. 
•    The GMGI Science Hour was introduced virtually as a way to bring our community together and bring world-class, innovative science safely to you at home. 

We are proud of these accomplishments. And we are equally proud of the dedicated, motivated GMGI staff. They’ve showed that, thanks to a focused determination, the GMGI mission is stronger than ever.  

We hope our performance within the most challenging environment in recent memory gives you the confidence to support GMGI as the year draws to a close. Your tax-deductible donation will fortify our efforts to address the critical challenges facing our oceans, human health and the environment. 

In gratitude,

Chris Bolzan, Executive DirectorDONATE TODAY TO SUPPORT OUR MISSIONGMGI Science Hour Talks Continue 
 Up next on the GMGI Science Hour: our own Donald G. Comb Science Director, Dr. Andrea Bodnar!  Following on the heels of the inspiring talk two weeks ago from Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D. – which drew a record setting audience – Dr. Bodnar joins us THIS Thursday December 3rd at 7:30pm via Zoom to discuss her groundbreaking work on the long-lived red sea urchin, and its potential to help scientists understand healthy aging in humans. Register for the talk here.

As always, you can view previous Science Hour talks and learn more about our upcoming speakers on our website.Academy Starts Second Semester
 The Academy’s first semester wrapped up in mid-November, with students completing a final practical exam that consisted of different ‘stations’ set up in the teaching lab, designed to test students’ knowledge and application of different technical laboratory skills.   All students completed their exams – and the semester – successfully, with high praise from their instructors. Teaching Assistant Rebecca Barnard reports that in addition to fulfilling the requirements of semester one, this class had some of the cleanest DNA sequencing results seen in recent years. 

We are also happy to report there were zero cases of COVID-19 within the Academy’s in-person learning model. This accomplishment is a testament to the commitment to safety that students and instructors practiced over the past 12 weeks. 

This morning, students returned to the Academy to begin their second semester.  Using what they learned in semester one on how to extract fish DNA for sequencing, semester two will guide students through the process of extracting protein from fish samples.  There will also be an introduction to mammalian cell culture – the growth and passaging of cells derived from animal tissue.  Additionally, this class will be the first to end semester two with four weeks of biomanufacturing – a brief introduction to what will soon be a permanent addition to the Academy curriculum in 2021. You can read more about the new biomanufacturing curriculum and lab, and the grant that enabled it, here.GMGI research associates  Dylan Comb and  Tim O’Donnell stop at Corliss Landing on a sampling trip in late November, collecting water samples for an ongoing eDNA project analyzing the local cod population.GMGI’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

During the summer months, GMGI created an internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Since its formation, the committee has met on a regular basis to address issues of inclusion and equity in the workplace, develop staff training and growth opportunities, and foster an environment free of bias and judgment. The committee has developed this statement of commitment:
 In addition to researching diversity in our oceans, GMGI is committed to supporting diversity in our workforce and classrooms. We know that having varied backgrounds and experiences stimulates discussion and new ideas. We are taking action on diversity, equity, and inclusion by providing substantial training opportunities to increase self-awareness as an organization, and building a team of staff and students from uniquely different backgrounds.The GMGI Science Minute

As you enjoyed your second (or third) helping of Thanksgiving dinner, GMGI Scientist Matt Harke, PhD hopes you remembered to thank your gut microbiome.