AP Biology Students Catch and Catalog Rockfish

Students from AP Biology teacher Meghan Shuff’s fourth period class traveled to Ventura, California on a $50,000 grant from Google for two days during winter break.

Students caught rockfish from the oceanic coast near Ventura, and collected gill tissue samples from the caught fish. The students will analyze the genome of the collected tissue to sequence part of its DNA and contribute to a larger genome sequencing effort, called Barcode of Life Database.

“I’m glad that a high school can be a part of scientific research,” AP Biology student junior Steven Dittmer said. “I’m very excited to become a published author in the scientific community.”

The students will take the tissue to a lab, where they will sequence a small segment of mitochondrial DNA called the C01 gene. Containing 650 base pairs, this gene creates a universal barcode that can be used to distinguish any species.

“It gives students a different perspective from just doing lab work,” Shuff said. “It gives you this big picture of what you’re actually doing, and you really are at the research-scientist position. That’s really the fun part of science, being in the field, asking these questions, and actually getting the data yourself.”