Greta M. Mahler ’25 is first author on published paper detailing laboratory exercise

A paper by Greta M. Mahler ’25 of Athens, Wisconsin, and Barbara Sisson, associate professor of biology, has been published in the journal Zebrafish. “Teaching Fin Regeneration Using a Dominant Negative Receptor” is included in the education issue of the journal. It details a laboratory exercise Sisson conducted with her Developmental Biology course students.

The article is freely available through May 20.

“Rising in popularity as a model organism in the classroom, zebrafish have numerous characteristics that make them ideal for teaching. In this study, we describe an experiment that helps students better understand the concept of tissue regeneration and the genes that control it,” the abstract reads. The experiment incorporates both hands-on and literature-based components. “Having both a hands-on and critical-thinking component in the laboratory helped synthesize the learning goals and allowed students to actively participate,” the abstract says.

Mahler participated as a student in the laboratory exercise and then helped Sisson write the paper during the Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR) program during the summer of 2023. “Our goal was to write up the background and instructions to the lab so that other college instructors could use it in their classes,” Sisson says. “Involving Greta in this project was particularly helpful because she completed the lab as a student last spring and was able to provide the student perspective to the lab design. This research experience allowed Greta to be the first author on a publication, an experience that usually occurs in graduate school.”

“Writing this paper taught me a lot about the inner workings of the scientific community and how to effectively communicate complex ideas with other scientists and the general public, as well,” Mahler says. She is a chemistry-biology major and plans to pursue a career in medical research, hopefully at Mayo Clinic or Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.

(Photo: Barbara Sisson, left, and Greta M. Mahler ’25)

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