The world is full of viruses. From Ebola and measles to smallpox and flu viruses have, and continue, to influence the trajectory of humankind and remain a significant burden on global health. These viruses are known to us because of the diseases they cause. The tenOever Lab is dedicated to understanding these viruses and diseases.
"Virus Ninja" is the long-time nickname of Dr. tenOever, and the fun way that we think about our Outreach efforts even beyond the lab. While science in its pure and most advanced forms is complicated, part of the impact of our research is in connecting it with the rest of the world. Thus, our fearless leader isn't our only Virus Ninja: all of our team, our colleagues in other labs, science students, and just people interested in our work can be Virus Ninjas too! This program is about giving people the information and tools to understand our work and its impacts so they can, either working with us or in their own places and ways, wage a winning battle against viruses and the negative impacts they have in the world.
Each summer the tenOever Lab invites curious and motivated high school students to join us in fun real-world science projects. For example, some students collect insects in nature and then extract their RNA, breaking it down into fragments of genetic code exposing the “A’s”, “U’s”, “Gs”, and “C’s”. This code is re-assembled using a computer algorithm to identify continuous strands that include thousands of letters. These predominantly represent instructions to make the insect they derive from but can also expose viruses that have never been observed before. Students can choose virus components of interest to build using synthetic biology and even name their unique, identified virus.
tenOever Lab endeavors to help people understand our core practice of Biology through Virology. Battling viruses may be complicated and require specialized knowledge and training, but it is possible for everyone to have a better understanding about what is happening, how virologists like us respond to work, and how we’re helping to make the world a better place.