Camille Pushman, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology at Indiana University, is pursuing a biology degree to become a geneticist. She is a member of Assistant Professor Ryan Bracewell's lab where she uses mountain pine beetles to identify regions of the genome that code for body size and development time.
The mountain pine beetle is one of the most destructive pests in North America. Pushman hopes her work will provide scientists with a greater understanding of the beetle's ecology and help them determine how to better control the pest.
Pushman was featured in an IT News & Events article from University Information Technology Services about undergraduates doing research with supercomputers.
According to the article:
Pushman’s interest in genetics started in high school, but her interest in entomology began in college while studying crickets in an Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) Lab—an in-person lab where teachers can set up classes, training labs, and more.
“It was about different stressors that impact crickets’ ability to thrive in their environment,” Pushman said. “So, like a lack of food or an immune challenge, and the different ways that organisms react to their environment is really interesting to me, and what allows them to thrive and reproduce versus die out is a really complex question that I would really like to answer.”
Pushman’s work with the supercomputers began in March 2022 after learning about her advisor Ryan Bracewell’s research into the mountain pine beetle.
“At first, it was learning a lot of small pieces of the computer and how to use it, but the more knowledge I've gained the more I’ve been able to expand that and utilize different programs and different functionalities of the computers,” Pushman said. “I went from doing really small-scale things in one step at a time to being able to complete a big analysis and do multiple steps in one go.”