Lab Experience

Our research lab environment combines the teachings and approaches of science with the teachings and practices of Buddhism… What does this look like?

Teachings and Practice of Science

Ficus religiosa growing in the lab.

Oregon State University students learn to frame their projects and experiments in the scientific method. Students explore the logic foundations of hypothesis-guided science, and elements of balanced and rigorous experimental designs. Controls are a central feature science of conducted in our lab. Students grow Ficus religiosa in the lab, with a growing collection of plants from different seed sources around the world. Trainees illustrate and photograph Bodhi trees. We study Bodhi tree DNA. Diverse molecular and genetic lab-bench methods are learned and practiced including leaf DNA extractions, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA purification, and DNA sequencing. DNA inhabiting Bodhi tree nuclei and chloroplasts is currently under analysis. We apply diverse bioinformatic and phylogenetic analytical strategies to investigate Bodhi tree DNA evolution, and evaluate Bodhi tree hypotheses.

Teachings and Practice of the Buddha

Students learn about Buddhism and its connections to science through readings, video documentaries, and lab conversations. Buddhism has diversified and adapted to new cultures over the last two millennia, and we value teachings coming from all the branches. We learn from Buddhist monks and nuns such as the Dalai Lama, Bhikkuni Kusuma, Thich Nhat Hanh, Venerable Yifa, and Walpola Rahula. We also learn from thinkers at the Buddhism and science frontier including Scott Gilbert, Denis Noble, and Anagarika Dharmapala. The lab recently finished a Spring term book club focused on Buddhist Biology by David Barash. We are experimenting with the integration of meditation into lab routines; mindfulness and focus on awareness are recurrent themes in daily lab life.

Students share their research and experiences with the Bodhi Tree Projects through poster presentations, and by contributing content to the project website.

Rebekah Cleary explains her Bodhi tree genetic research at the 2019 STEM Leaders Symposium on the OSU campus.
Christina Lew shares her Bodhi tree art work at the 2018 Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence Symposium on the OSU campus.