Annika Gehl

Introduction:

This weeks featured scientist is Annika Gehl!

“Hi! I’m Annika Gehl, and I’m the featured scientist for this week. I study biology at the University of Minnesota and I study how different pollutants and chemicals in the environment affect Zebrafish growth and development. Every day, we use countless chemicals and products that eventually end up in the environment, typically through runoff and waste water. I want to better understand how these pollutants affect the organisms living in aquatic environments. 

Do you want to know what it’s like to conduct research with Zebrafish embryos? Are you wondering why it’s important to know about how human pollution affects certain organismal communities?”

Annika’s Research

Fun Facts:

  • Zebrafish embryos are almost completely clear! This makes it very easy to visualize their development and collect data. 
  • Zebrafish are native to the warm freshwater environment in South Asia and typically live in shallow, clear water. A lot of people have them in their fish tanks too, so you may have already seen a zebrafish without even knowing it!
  • Zebrafish also live a pretty long time: up to 5 years!
  • Many contaminants of emerging concern, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can alter how hormones work in our bodies. 
  • There are some genetic mutations that alter development during the embryonic stage in humans: zebrafish experience some of the same mutations and can therefore be a really good model for researchers to use when studying these mutations. 
  • Zebrafish are used in many different types of research, from researching cancer to effects of pollution to cardiovascular disease. 
  • Although zebrafish are small, they are omnivores: in addition to plant life, they also eat small insects.
Hatched Zebrafish

Here is another activity to try! A scavenger hunt at home!

Q&A video: