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Visionaries: Fruit flies may provide insight on aging eyes in humans

Vikki Weake is a Purdue researcher studying gene expression in fruit flies. When I had my first interview with her, she was energetic and always smiling when she spoke about her work and her family.

That passion is contagious, and really inspired me to share her research with others. It's amazing that looking at something as tiny as a fruit fly has the potential to benefit or change human health. This made it exciting to see what is hiding in her lab.

Seeing Weake’s lab for the first time was different than I expected. In some ways, it looked like a mad scientist’s workspace, yet some student desks were clean while others had stacks of paper and notes with an uncapped pen behind it — you’ll see some of that space in this video. Students walked around in lab coats, carrying tubes and beakers full of liquids. One student in the corner was looking through a microscope. There I noticed the little fruit flies. She was sorting the flies by the color of their eyes! Meanwhile, Weake was sorting the data and working in her office.

This lab environment makes you realize that this researcher and her students work countless hours and devote themselves to discover new science that could help our eyesight in the future. I felt welcomed to shoot for their video. Yet, I didn’t want to get in the way of their work because they were so focused.

I was fortunate enough to have a student to explain to me a little bit more about the fruit flies in their lab. She was excited to teach us about the work and explained how they sort every fly and record every finding. That’s amazing when you remember how small a fruit fly is!

Weake and her students made me want to share their story and findings. Weake’s attitude toward teaching her students (and even a pair of agricultural communication students) was awesome. She’s someone to know not only for her research but on a personal level, too.

Related Blog and Video

Teaching, mentoring, an open mind, and lover for her work motivate Vikki Weake

Meet the Filmmaker/Blogger
Kate Mattingly, student filmmaker and blogger Kate Mattingly, student filmmaker and blogger

Kate Mattingly is an agricultural communication major from Frankfort, Indiana. She grew up raising and showing livestock, and she would like to have her own farm one day.

About Visionaries

This blog and video are part of the Visionaries series, which highlights the work and lives of researchers in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. The content for this series is created by the students of ASEC 280 (Digital Storytelling).

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Explore other videos and blogs created by our student-filmmakers

Videos are also available on the Purdue Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication YouTube channel

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