Science Weekend Investigations and Field Trips (SWIFT)
Division of Natural Sciences, Fullerton College


Science faculty at Fullerton College are inviting interested students to participate in weekend research projects on-campus and/or at off-campus field sites. This program aims to

  • provide opportunity for community college to participate in science research projects
  • allow students to perform hands-on lab or field techniques under direction of a faculty mentor
  • promote student interest in biology, chemistry, ecology
  • provide first-hand experience of how science research is conducted

Students will be given the opportunity to present their research poster or Powerpoint at the FC Academic Research Conference

DNA Barcoding Project

Jo Wu, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology

2014: January

Microalgae Cultivation

Joana Tavares-Reager

Professor of Oceanography
2013: October

                      of Tuna

Fish DNA Barcoding Project

Jo Wu, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology

2013 Series at FC:  Jan 8, 9, 17, 22

Investigating Marine Mammal Contamination: Analytical Lab Equipment & Techniques 

Robert Ellis

Professor of Oceanography

2013 Series: Apri 20-21 at CSU-LB


Do Organic Foods Contain GMO?

Testing for Genetically Engineered DNA

Jo Wu, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology

2012 Series at FC: March 3, 4, 10, 11

2011 Series (October)
2010 Series (April)

photo of
                      bivalve collection

Bivalve Inventory at Newport Bay

Robert Ellis

Professor of Oceanography

2012 Series: March 17, 18, 24, 25

3D model of GFP

Are Those Bacteria Glowing?

Production of Genetically Engineered Fluorescent Proteins

Jo Wu, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology

2012 Series:
June 4-8 at Fullerton College,
June 11-15 at Santa Ana College

2010 Series: March


Egg Sac Parasites of Black Widow
and Brown Widow Spiders

Lenny Vincent, Ph.D.,
Professor of Biology

2012 Series
2011 Series


Mating Behavior of Dance Flies

Ken Collins, Ph.D. ,
Professor of Biology

2010 Series

2011 Series

2012 Series: ongoing, schedule as arranged


Series of Saturday workshops

Jan Chadwick, Ph.D.,
Professor of Chemistry

2010 Series:

  • Feb 6: The Science of Solar Cells
  • Feb 27: Processing a Processor
  • Mar 6: Measuring Acids and Bases with Nanotechnology
  • May 1: Ferrofluids, Magnets, and Wind Power


Do Organic Foods Contain GMO? Testing Foods for Genetic Engineered DNA


Faculty Mentor: Jo Wu, Professor of Biology,

Project Summary: Students will test various foods for the presence of genetic modification organisms (GMO). Foods certified organic and non-certified will be chosen by students. Using technique of polymerase chain reaction, the DNA will be amplified and tested with various gene markers for GMOs. Comparisons of agarose gel electrophoresis patterns will be analyzed. GMO food regulations in different countries will be compared.

Lab Techniques: DNA extraction, DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction, agarose gel electrophoresis


Ecological Role of Benthic Invertebrate Populations in Newport Bay

Faculty Mentor: Robert Ellis, Professor of Oceanography,

Target Audience:

Students interested in the discovery process of science research. Limited to 8 FC students, working in groups with students from UCI and OCC.

Project Summary:

The ecological health of Newport Bay, like that of other estuaries and bays, is highly dependent on ecosystem services provided by large populations of sessile filter-feeding invertebrates including clams, mussels and ascidians. These animals make an enormous contribution to water quality by preventing the buildup of excess phytoplankton, which would otherwise increase the risk of eutrophication. They are also an important food source for other invertebrates, fish and birds. The filter-feeding organisms are well adapted to a harsh and changing environment, but they can be negatively impacted by chemical and particulate pollution from upstream sources as well as from boating activities. They are also vulnerable to invasion by exotic species and overharvest from local residents. Anecdotal accounts have described past bivalve abundance in Newport Bay to be significantly higher than current populations. However, it is difficult to confidently assess the role various human impacts have had on their population decline or the effect this decline has had on the ecology of the bay without reliable data on their abundance and distribution through time. It is therefore important to monitor the local filter-feeding populations as closely as possible.

This project will provide a directed research experience for a small group of students studying local bivalve populations under the guidance of UC Irvine, Orange Coast College and Fullerton College faculty. Selected students will learn about the research process by contributing to an ongoing project investigating filter-feeding populations in Newport Bay, their relative distribution, the ecological role they play in the local environment, and a discussion on how a hypothetical bivalve restoration project could affect water quality in the bay. Students will be exposed to intertidal sampling techniques, bivalve filtration experiments, water quality analyses, and the use of computer models to assess the potential effect a restoration project could have on a local estuary.


[Top] You must commit to attending all four days of field and lab work to be eligible. Some background reading will be given to prepare for the project and each student must contribute to a group presentation that will hopefully be presented at the FC Research Symposium in May 2012.


Are those Bacteria Glowing? Comparison of Genetically Engineered Fluorescent Proteins


Faculty Mentor: Jo Wu, Professor of Biology,

Project Summary: Each pair of students will genetically engineer a fluorescent protein gene into a bacterial plasmid, transform and clone bacterial cells containing the recombinant plasmid. The fluorescent proteins (red, green or blue forms) produced by the bacteria will be collected and purified using chromatography and gel electrophoresis techniques. DNA and amino acid sequences published in the national database will be compared and analyzed. For more detailed information, please see

Note: This series is targeted towards second-year science students who have already taken another 200-level science course. You will be learning and doing all of the steps from gene level to protein level. Approved students can sign up for the 1-unit BIOL 299 "Biological Sciences Independent Study" course, with Jo Wu's signature.

Lab Techniques:
lab safety, sterile techniques, Restriction enzyme digest, ligation, bacterial transformation, bacterial cultures, DNA purification, agarose gel electrophoresis, column chromatography, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, sequence comparisons on computer

Expectations for Students receiving Bio 299 credit and course grade:

  • Must have already received "B" grade or better in a 200-level biology course.
  • Do interactive web tutorials in February to review concepts of cloning, lab safety, lab techniques. (2 hours total)
  • Commit three Fridays and three Saturdays in March for laboratory work, between 9am - 3pm. (36 hours total)
  • Keep a detailed laboratory notebook
  • Produce a powerpoint summary presentation and written report in format of scientific research paper.

Expectations for Students not receiving course credit:

  • Sincere motivation to learn hands-on molecular biology lab techniques
  • Do interactive web tutorials in February to learn concepts of cloning, lab safety, lab techniques. (about 2 - 4 hours)
  • Commit to full days for laboratory work, between 9am - 3pm.
  • Write in laboratory notebook



BIOL 299: Biological Science Independent Study (1)

  • Prerequisite: A 200-level course in the Biological Sciences Division with a grade of B or better.
  • Lab and/or field investigations with the guidance of members of the Life Sciences faculty. Hours to be arranged. Primarily for majors in Life Sciences who wish to increase their knowledge of the sciences through individual study and small group conferences. Independent lab research problems with staff supervision may be approved. Outside reading and written report required. Elective credit in the sciences area. Course may be taken three times for credit. (CSU) (UC review required.) (Degree Credit)