Clarkson University Professor Awarded St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund Grant

Clarkson University Assistant Professor and Director of Freshman Biology Andrew David has been awarded grant funding from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund (SLRREF) Board.

The grant funding, totaling $18,386.10, was awarded to David for his proposal titled “Rapid Assessment Survey for Alien Freshwater Mollusks in the St. Lawrence River System Using DNA Barcoding.”

According to David, the grant will fund the first-ever DNA barcoding project on New York rivers which are associated with the St. Lawrence River system.

“In particular, we will be using DNA barcoding to identify non-native aquatic mollusks in these systems,” David said. “This technique is often used as a quick-fire way to detect non-native species before they become potential invasives.”

David said students will be heavily involved in the project, helping with DNA extractions and sequencing. The work they do is a staple for anyone interested in molecular biology or biotechnology careers and is a good way for students to hone their laboratory skills.

DNA barcoding, when used for large scale biodiversity assessments like in this project, can be expensive in terms of reagents and sequencing costs, David said. While sequencing amplicons (small DNA fragments) have become much cheaper, barcoding relies on generating hundreds of sequence data which can add up quickly.

David’s lab has carried out two DNA barcoding assessments on the New England coast.

“The grant will allow us to transfer what we’ve done in marine environments to freshwater environments closer to home,” David said. “In other words, the David Lab can now state that it is a true ‘aquatic’ lab with experience in working on both freshwater and marine biodiversity.”

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