Microbiome Research with Asia Miller
I tried to make onion juice my senior year of high school, and now I know why they don’t sell it commercially. I thought that by growing bacteria on different foods (orange juice, chocolate, and onions) suspected of causing halitosis, I could determine which food was the worst for bad breath. In case you were wondering, chocolate ended up best facilitating the growth of oral bacteria. Somewhere between blending chunks of onion and water in an attempt to make onion juice and melting chocolate and spreading it onto a petri dish, I decided that I really loved research.
I knew that I wanted my Immersion project to be the research that I did during my time at Vandy, because I knew that my Immersion project was supposed to be something that I enjoyed (and was already planning on doing). Getting started with research was confusing at first; the first thing I did was run up to my Intro to Biology (BSCI 1510) professor after class, and ask him how I could get involved in microbiology research like him. I joined the Bordenstein lab a few weeks later, and started working on a project that was trying to understand the microbiome of a species of parasitic wasp named Nasonia. Professor Bordenstein was the easiest choice for my Immersion faculty adviser, so that’s who I went with. Your adviser could be anyone from your PI, to your favorite professor, to a faculty member you think does cool work.
For those who are trying to develop their own Immersion projects, I would say look to your hobbies or extracurriculars first. Whether it be art, writing, reading, community service, study abroad, research, design, composition, community service, or anything else, you can turn it into your immersion project. Just find anything you care about besides your grades and put a bit more effort and thought into it than you might usually. If you can’t think of a hobby you want to do your Immersion project on, there’s nothing wrong with joining an existing organization and making your commitment to it your project. Immersion can really be anything, and hopefully, with how diverse Vandy students are, it’ll be everything.
Asia Miller, Class of 2022
An Indiana Hoosier, Asia Miller is a second year student involved in microbiome research in the Bordenstein Lab. She runs the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Microbiome Society, a service-learning student organization focused on distributing fresh produce to where it’s needed most, and teaching people about the microbiome. She enjoys ceramics, writing, and daydreaming whenever possible.