Matt Donovan works in the lab on one of the benches.

Name: Matt Donovan

Education: B.S in Biology and B.A in Spanish at Colorado State University

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado

Career goal: Join the Peace Corps and earn a doctorate or professional degree, then research infectious diseases or work with international public health.

Favorite Memory: Sharing his research and learning about other projects at a conference for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, Texas. “That was really cool to kind of poke my toe in the scientific community and see how researchers network and what new trends have people talking,” Matt asserts.

Project: Sequencing the Myostatin gene in the Green Shore Crab, Carcinus maenas

Matt’s project sequences the Myostatin gene so other researchers can know the order of base pairs in one of the genes that controls muscle growth and plays a role in the crustacean molting process. This project will help them determine what parts of the gene affect changes in the muscles of crabs and other crustaceans.“The project is straightforward, even if it’s not easy,” Matt admits.

Matt uses a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, which works like a DNA photocopier, to duplicate different parts of the myostatin sequence. Eventually he’ll have enough pieces, including the beginning and end of the sequence, to put together into the whole gene. He directs the PCR to copy different segments of Myostatin by adjusting the chemicals used, the temperature, the amount of time the chemicals react and the number of copies made.“There’s so many tiny little things to fine tune, and it’s possible that only the perfect combination will work,” Matt emphasizes. “So I just haven’t found the perfect combination yet.”