Research. Camera. Action!

Journal transforms CMU research into video that will help researchers worldwide

​​​​​​​​​Central Michigan University researchers have found a more efficient, productive and eco-friendly method to create compounds th​at can be used in multiple research applications.

Researchers worldwide soon will be able to better follow CMU's new protocol through a video that will appear in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

The academic journal recently sent a videographer to campus to record a video that will provide a step-by-step demonstration of the CMU research method. It will appear in the online edition of the journal featuring the CMU team's paper, "Rapid One-Step Enzymatic Synthesis and All-Aqueous Purification of Trehalose Analogues."

"One of the goals of the journal's video protocols is to improve experimental reproducibility, which is extremely important to the scientific community," said Benjamin Swarts, the CMU chemistry and biochemistry faculty member who led the research team.

In the weeks leading up to the recording session, research team members worked with journal writers to develop a video storyboard and script. Everything was based on the research paper written by Swarts and lead author Lisa Meints — previously one of Swarts' graduate researchers who now is pursuing a doctorate in biomolecular sciences at Michigan State University — and co-authors including Anne Poston, a current laboratory technician, and Brent Piligian, the undergraduate researcher who served as on-camera talent.

Talent in the lab and on came​ra

Piligian paused before he poured a clear solution into a vial.

The CMU undergraduate majoring in biomedical sciences and neuroscience looked up at the journal videographer who was documenting the research.

"How's the background?" Piligian, a senior from Plymouth, Michigan, asked as he motioned to the new Biosciences Building lab space surrounding him.

Without skipping a beat, the journal's videographer Paul Tamm responded, "Good and messy, just the way we want it."

Swarts said Tamm had commented that out of nearly 200 Journal of Visualized Experiments videos he has recorded, only a handful involved undergraduate students.

"This is a testament to CMU's great environment for undergraduate research and the talented students we have here at CMU," Swarts said.

Piligian has published five research papers as an undergraduate student and was named a 2016 Goldwater Scholar honorable mention. Still, he said serving as the talent for this journal video was among his most memorable experiences as he prepares for his career as a physician and researcher.

"I take so much pride in being able to share with the scientific community the research that my fellow lab members and I have worked so hard toward developing," Piligian said. "The skills I have gained from being a part of this work have better prepared me to analyze issues in the world around me and find effective avenues toward addressing them."

The Journal of Visualized Experiments issue that includes the CMU research paper and video is expected be released in early 2017.

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Dan Digmann
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