Spotlight on undergraduate research assistant Dustin Bailey
An exciting facet of the Boulder Apple Tree Project is that we strive to connect the cultural and ecological history of the Boulder community. That connection includes involvement of community volunteers, local landowners, graduate students, undergraduate students, and University researchers. We wouldn’t be able to collect the scientific and historical data without assistance from these groups and we are grateful for their enthusiasm!
One of our undergraduate student researchers is Dustin Bailey (EBIO ’18) who joined the Project in 2018. He was part of a class that focused on Apple Genomics and was taught by Dr. Nolan Kane. Dustin worked with graduate student Silas Tittes on the DNA extraction process and analyzing results from apples which are growing on wild trees in Boulder’s open spaces.
During the 2018 Apple Blitz, Dustin worked as a team leader collecting biological samples and historical information in the field with a group of other students. They would tag, measure, and collect apples from the trees while engaging with the property owners to learn more about the history of the land and the tree. In the weeks following the Blitz, Dustin would visit properties that reported trees after the September collection date. One of his most memorable experiences was visiting a local preschool that had an old apple tree on their playground. He was able to engage with the children and have them help with the apple collections. This is a great example of students connecting with the community and exposing other students to STEM research.
In addition to working in the field and with DNA extraction, Dustin worked with a group of undergraduates and graduate student Deidre Jaeger in studying the morphology of all apples collected in the Fall of 2018. In this setting, apples were checked for sugar content, dissected and photographed, and, checked against known cultivars. Dustin returned back to the molecular lab in Spring 2019 to extract DNA from 200 of our 2018 apple samples in preparation for our larger genetic inquiry of what apple cultivars are here in Boulder.
In the future, Dustin hopes to conduct outreach with preschool groups and is exploring biodynamic farming. Good luck to Dustin and thank you for being part of the Apple Tree Project team!