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Biology Student Stories: Bailey Landis

Bailey Landis

From playing the clarinet and majoring in music to finding inspiration in deciphering the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs relevant to fruit fly evolution and genetics, Bailey Landis has many interests but has dedicated his educational pursuits to biology.

The “major” shift happened when Bailey took Genetics from Dr. Nitin Phadnis. That was the moment he realized he loved biology and wanted to give research a try.

Bailey asked Professor Phadnis if he knew of any lab openings, and the very next day he entered the research world…in the Phadnis lab! “Even though research was new to me, I was given the opportunity to jump into cutting-edge science. I immediately began investigating the genetic basis of a hybrid incompatibility between two subspecies of Drosophila.” Bailey artfully explained that “When two populations of a species are isolated from each other, they rapidly evolve [and this can] lead to speciation.” Deciphering the molecular and genetic basis of this process is the focus of the Phadnis lab.

Bailey finds the lab environment “unequivocally amazing” and  “is inspired by the motivation and drive of his peers in the lab.” He says, “Whenever you are doing something, people want you to do well…and are not hoping for your downfall. So I have gotten courage knowing when I am presenting or doing something scary that people are hoping to see me succeed.”

Bailey has gained an appreciation for the collaborative nature of science, receiving mentorship and mastering new techniques with support from two other biology professors, Golic and Dale. As it goes in research, things often don’t work and you always have to be on the lookout for something unexpected, Bailey shared. “I became frustrated that my hard work had yielded no results and began doubting whether the X-ray machine was working correctly. I examined the neuroblasts of mutagenized males, looking for fragmented chromosomes to ensure that the genetic material was being irradiated.... My irradiation approach was simple and reliable [yet] lacked efficiency, relying on randomly mutating a single gene out of over 13,000. I felt like I was waiting for an accident and wanted my approach to be more precise. I returned to the drawing board, searching for a more efficient way to identify this gene. I pivoted to a targeted deletion system using CRISPR/Cas-9.”

Bailey’s enthusiasm and dedication has led to an evolution in his knowledge, which will definitely give him a head start when he begins his PhD in biology, at the U, in the fall of 2024.

Bailey is from Chico, California. When he’s not in the lab, you can find Bailey indulging his many other interests from drawing and painting, fly fishing, working on his jiu jitsu, snowboarding, and cooking lots of different dishes!

By Maisy Webb

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