Hands-on With the Harpy Eagle

 By Ivan Babic

One of my favorite aspects of Earlham education is the fact that there are many opportunities for students to actively participate in hands on experiences. One of these amazing opportunities is the Ford / Knight “Comparative Genomics of the Harpy Eagle and other Raptors” organized by Heather Learner.

Five students from different academical backgrounds are enrolled in this F/K whose main goal is to analyze Harpy Eagle genome through comparative genomics using two other eagle genomes.

So far, as a group we have done a lot of scientific article selection, reading and discussions. Furthermore, all of us are doing research in the areas that are of our interest. My primary goal at the beginning of semester was to learn more about climate change effects on the genome as well as learning more about genome sizes. My other work included getting 40 kb fosmid libraries from Joshua Akey and placing them on our cluster file system. Joshua is also about to provide us with 200 bp library data. We also got access to unpublished genomes of Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura),  White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), provided courtesy of Guojie Zhang (BGI), Erich Jarvis (Duke) and Tom Gilbert (Copenhagen). Currently I am refreshing my Bioinformatics knowledge and looking into different software that will enable us to align and assemble our Harpy Eagle genome.

FLASHThis screenshot is showing the software FLASH (Fast Length Adjustment of SHort reads) merging paired-ends reads of our Harpy Eagle data.

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