Senior Robert “Cash” Laidmanhas taken on an intensive Honors project in the
neuroscience field. Working with rats, he hopes to isolate an estrogen receptor called GPR-30 in the brain and examine it to further knowledge on the subject.
“No one has looked before to see if this receptor exists,” Laidman said. “It [the rat] is the highest-ordered animal we have at this school that is physiologically similar to humans.”
Laidman’s procedure for finding the receptor involves introducing antibodies into the rat’s brain and then preparing slides from the tissue to be examined under a light microscope. He spends eight to 10 hours per week taking care of the animals through his on-campus job on top of all the lab work toward the actual project.
“I have four days worth of processing to prepare the slides … and a lot of things could go wrong in that time,” Laidman said.
For some of his procedures, Laidman works with the Galesburg Animal Disease Laboratory. He also relies on his Honors committee for advice. The committee is comprised of Associate Professors of Biology Esther Penick and Judith Thorn and Proessor of Biology Linda Dybas.
“[The professors on my committee] have been an incredible amount of help. I talk to Esther and Linda on a daily basis … I just wish there was more I could do than say ‘thank you,’” he said.
Laidman has been working on his project since summer, when he began learning some of the laboratory skills he needed for starting out work this term.
“This term, I’m trying to finish up getting down my procedures and techniques,” Laidman said.
As the year goes on, Laidman wants to get closer to isolating the receptor. He even plans to spend his winter break on campus to stay on track with his project.
“Next term, I want to get more into electron microscopy so I can find where in the cell exactly it [the receptor] is located,” Laidman said.
As a neuroscience major, Laidman intends to apply to graduate schools in the field. He believes his Honors project will help immensely with application material.