Kelsey Kolar Lands in Spain for Her International Research Experience

written by Kelsey Kolar

Week 1

Surprisingly, my time in Spain has already allocated a week’s worth! I began my summer in Spain by landing in Bilbao. I made sure to make the most of my 24 hours in Bilbao by visiting the Guggenheim museum, city plaza, local shops, and river walk. I even stumbled upon a vegan sushi bar where I enjoyed my first Spanish meal! The next morning before I left Bilbao to head to Villaviciosa, I met up with Eric and again we ventured around the city.

On Thursday we departed from Bilbao and took 2 buses to get to Villaviciosa. After a 5-6 hour bus ride, we were met by Bea Martinez, a team member of IPLA-CSIC. Once we arrived, Bea showed us around the town and took us to the apartment we would live for the summer. The rest of the weekend was filled with adventures around the quaint country-side town. Local markets, parks, and trails lined with horses, cows, and goats. Waking up to mountain views and birds chirping makes it easy to start the day!

Monday was our first day of work. We began with a seminar on CRISPR-genome editing and followed the presentation with a tour of IPLA-CSIC and a full introduction in safety, lab management, and staff introductions. I met my mentor, Dr. Miguel Guiemonde, and we created a timeline for my work at IPLA. My research will focus on identifying how antibiotic treatments in early-life infants (0-90 days) affect their microbiota development and diversity. To access this, I will process fecal samples, perform DNA extractions, prepare DNA for sequencing and gas chromatography to access short-chain fatty acid concentrations, and run qPCR to quantify bacterial concentrations. With no time to waste, I dove right into work Tuesday. Alongside masters and Ph.D. students, Sylvia and Mariana, we began the fecal sample processing and conducted DNA extractions. In the upcoming weeks, DNA extractions will be conducted to prepare samples for sequencing to identify what bacteria are present and qPCR to conclude bacterial abundance. Excited to see how antibiotic treatment or lack thereof alters the microbiota in newborns!