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Meet the BYB Lab Tech, Jake! The Guy Behind the Guy, Behind the Guy

My name is Jake Robbins and I have been working behind the scenes here at Backyard Brains this summer as a lab tech. I recently graduated from Novi High School, and will be attending Michigan State University this fall. My job at Backyard Brains has mostly consisted of working on much of the software coding involved in the intern’s experiments.

As the summer started off, I was working almost exclusively with Marta and her circadian rhythm project, learning how to use the arduino to spy on her test subjects around the clock. We tried all kinds of sensors in the cockroach bin to detect their motion over night. PIR motion sensors weren’t sensitive enough to detect the cockroaches and IR emitter/detectors weren’t practical due to high amounts of data analysis that would be required. When we first tried using an IR reflective sensor with a hamster wheel, (more…)


BYB Summer Camp Internships: Alex on How to Train Your Cockroach

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I’m Alex, a neuroscience major from the wonderful Michigan State University (GO GREEN!)**, down in Ann Arbor for the summer as an intern with Backyard Brains. I’m working to be a behavior trainer of the cockroach, Periplaneta Americana, through means of operant conditioning. What is operant conditioning? In short, operant conditioning is a way of changing a behavior through a means of reinforcement whether it is reward or punishment. **editor’s note: Go Blue! 😉

At the start of this internship I faced the initial hurdle of (more…)


BYB Summer Camp Internships: Cort Turns Up for Optogenetics

My name is Cort Thompson and I’m one of the incredibly privileged interns working at Backyard Brains this summer. I’m an undergraduate neuroscience student at Michigan State University and this summer I am working to bring the cutting edge technique of optogenetics to the classroom while also observing the courtship behaviors and gustatory system of fruit flies as well as attempting to map the neural circuitry responsible for the regulation of the proboscis extension reflex.

First, I think a little bit of background information on optogenetics (more…)