The MSCG Laboratory was established in the fall of 1998. The mission of this structure is to train undergraduate, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty in using molecular biology tools to study organisms. More specifically, we are training students in taking advantage of the great advances in molecular genetics of the past 20 years to address environmental, biodiversity, epidemiological, and conservation questions. The laboratory is open to the whole academic community. We teach students how to use genetic data to reconstruct the phylogeny of a group (i.e. their history). They also learn to use genes to clarify patterns and levels of differentiation between different geographic populations of the same species (i.e. their levels of genetic variability, degrees of genetic isolation), and how to use genetic data to analyze the demographic structure of populations (i.e. inbreeding / out-breeding problems, mating structures, etc,). The genetic data are integrated with ecological, morphological, behavioral, and environmental data to obtain a multidisciplinary picture of the relationships of the organisms to their environment. No other such facility exists on campus.
How does it operate?
The MSGC Lab is equipped with state of the art instrumentation to carry out genetic analyses on nuclei acids. Students are trained in using these technologies and in interpreting the data that they produce in two different types of settings: formal courses (offered through the EEB department) and research rotations of various lengths.
The laboratory director (Gisella Caccone) teaches laboratory and lecture courses to provide the students with hand-on laboratory experience and also give them the theoretical underpinning necessary to frame their projects in a solid scientific framework. A intensive laboratory course (Laboratory in Molecular Systematics, EEB315L) is offered every fall and it is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students learn how to extract DNA from different type of animals and plants, and to perform genetic analysis such as PCR, DNA sequencing, microsatellite analysis. They also learn how to analyze and interpret genetic data using a series of systematic/population genetics software packages. Dr Caccone also teaches Conservation genetics and Molecular Ecology, a seminar and a lecture course. These courses explore the use of molecular tools to address environmental, ecological, and evolutionary questions.
The one-to-one training is carried out through research projects that the students conduct over 3 to 12 months stages in the laboratory. Research project can be their senior research project (undergraduates) or part of their doctoral work (graduate students), or short one-semester projects (rotations). The MSGC lab. provides some financial support for these projects. However, graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek alternative funding sources after an initial 3-6 months stage in the lab. After this period they usually have gathered enough preliminary data to be able to write competitive grant proposals.
In the past years of activity the laboratory has trained about 70 people (undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs and faculty). Undergraduates are mostly MCDB, and EEB majors. Graduate students are master and doctoral students from departments and schools across campus (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology, Anthropology, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the School of Epidemiology). Students and post-doctoral fellows using the MSGC facility have authored numerous scientific publications in highly qualified scientific journals. They have been invited to present their data in several national and international symposia. Graduate students and post-docs have obtained funding by national and international agencies to continue the research projects started in the MSGC laboratory. Agencies that have funded their studies are: NSF, NIH, WHO -World Health Organization, EPA, Sea Grants, the Nature Conservancy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, CT DEP Office of Long Island Sound Program, Marsh Ecology Research Program/NJ Sea Grant.
Please go to the
to look at the projects currently going on in this laboratory.
YALE INSTITUTE FOR BIOSPHERIC