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   Society for Developmental Biology

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SDB Volunteers Shine at 5th USA Science & Engineering Festival

By Marsha E. Lucas

The Society for Developmental Biology along with BioEYES participated in the 5th USA Science & Engineering Festival held April 6-8, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Our exhibit “Development, Growth, and Regeneration” featured developing fish and frog embryos and highlighted how diverse animals including zebrafish and planaria are able to regrow lost body parts. More than 50 volunteers supported our exhibit over the three-day festival.

Steve Farber and his captive audience. Credit: Christine Weston

BioEYES co-founder, Steve Farber of the Carnegie Institution for Science, provided zebrafish and many microscopes for visitors to observe development from a single cell through larval stages. He and volunteers from BioEYES, the Carnegie and Johns Hopkins University helped visitors identify male and female adult zebrafish, determine the stage of embryos, and observe circulating blood and a beating heart.

Marina Venero Galanternik with her FASEB BioArt winning image. Credit: Marsha Lucas

Marina Venero Galanternik, a postdoc in Brant Weinstein's lab at the National Institutes of Health, excited attendees with her GFP-expressing zebrafish.  She won the 2017 FASEB BioArt contest for an image of the vasculature surrounding the brain in these same fish.

Himani Datta Majumdar from Sally Moody’s lab at George Washington University provided Xenopus embryos and tadpoles. Kids and adults learned about the lifecycle of frogs, identified the developmental stage of the embryos and tadpoles, and observed the beating heart.

This was the first year SDB had an exhibit on regeneration. Visitors learned about the importance of stem cells in regeneration and that diverse organisms undergo this process.

Mom and daughter observe Xenopus embryos. Credit: Carnegie Institution for Science

At the planaria station, guests observed tail and head fragments in the process of regeneration. They identified the site where new (white) tissue was growing and learned how that tissue contained stem cells that will form many different cell types.

At the zebrafish regeneration station, clear glasses housed individual adult fish with cut or uncut tail fins. Again visitors were able to observe white tissue at the amputation site and see how after three weeks the tail fin was indistinguishable from an uncut tail fin. Marnie Halpern of the Carnegie Institution for Science and members of her lab photographed the regeneration process over three weeks and created a beautiful vertical banner for the exhibit.

Marnie Halpern assists student in regeneration game. Credit: Christine Weston

Halpern also designed a “What can regenerate?” game in which visitors had to identify the pictured organisms that regenerate. Kids received some cool SDB swag for their efforts.

We thank all of the students, postdocs, faculty and friends of the Society for Developmental who traveled from across the Mid-Atlantic region to volunteer their time, materials, and expertise toward the success of this science festival. Also, a special thanks to Voot Yin of MDI Biological Laboratory and Kate McDole of HHMI-Janelia for their beautiful movies.

Check out the SDB website for more photos from the festival!