The Ultimate Project Student
Project students are, undoubtedly, an inseparable part of our research team and the Mizrahi lab family. As such, we see them as a great asset. As routine is the enemy of creativity, sometimes a fresh and objective perspective can be exactly what our research needs. While the project students’ scientific career is still in its infancy, we, the mentors, see this as a great advantage, for both us and the project students. Like all infants, the first years of development are the most crucial and contributing, considering information is absorbed and curiosity is a strong driving force. We guide them through their first baby steps into the scientific world of research, teaching them new techniques and methods. In short, our ultimate project student is curiosity-driven, questions everything and takes nothing for granted.
Our lab studies the Microbiome of various animal species in different gut ecosystems. This includes a broad range of microbial ecology questions, for example: the formation and development of multiple microbial communities, how this is connected and affected by age, sex and diet of the species, if and how these communities interact with each other, the composition of these communities and the relation to the species’ physiology and genetic background etc.
We see project students as an integral part of our lab, especially because they are the next generation of scientists. Therefore, we invest a lot of time and energy to ensure that they gain a deep understanding of the methods and theories that stand behind their project. They take part in answering their research question, learning important methods in both microbiology and molecular biology, as well as learning to work in a scientific environment and achieving hands-on experience in the wet lab. This is not limited to the technical aspect of methods and protocols but also includes adapting their way of thought by adopting the mindset of a scientist. Project students take part in all stages: from consolidating their own research question to designing and executing experiments (including sample collection) and analyzing their results.
Being part of our research team requires getting your hands dirty, sometimes literally. Sample collection often involves fecal or gastric sampling, collected from the specimen of interest in its natural habitat. This includes occasional visits to the zoo, safari parks, dairy farms, fish ponds and even hospitals, to collect samples from human volunteers that take part in our experiments.
Since most of the microbiome is composed of anaerobic bacterial species, even a ‘simple’ task, such as growing bacteria in lab conditions, becomes much more complicated. In fact, this is one of the microbial world’s greatest challenges. Our lab specializes in anaerobic microbiology, with high-end technology and machinery that provides growth conditions resembling the ecosystem the samples originated from. It is both exciting and challenging to take part in paving the way for successful anaerobic microbial cultivations.
The analysis step may include sequencing microbial genomes and genetic elements, analyzing metabolite production and consumption by the microbial communities in the gut and relating these data to their ecological roles and niches in the microbiome, statistical analysis, and programming.
Participating in all stages of answering a research question, allows the project students to taste various parts of the scientific world and decide which aspect of it interests them most.
When joining the Mizrahi lab family, it is important to know what to expect. Most importantly, we are all misfits and we’re proud of it. With a lab of approximately 12 and such a wide range of personalities- you are sure to find your place among us.
Our team enjoys teaching curious scientists and we will always be there when help or guidance are needed:
“It was never a bad time to ask questions…”
(former project student)
Last, but not least, we like to organize social gatherings. Project students are welcome to take part in these too- both in organizing and enjoying them. These gatherings include retreats, hikes, BBQs or just a casual beer after work.
If you don’t believe us, here’s scientific evidence of us having fun:
We are looking forward to working with and teaching new students…seriously now!
The Mizrahi Lab