Customer Spotlight

Woods Hole Research Center / Polaris

Impacting More Than Just Data


We love making customers happy, we really do! And every now and then, we hear from one of those happy customers in a way that sparks huge grins as it radiates throughout the entire company. Madeleine (Maddie) LaRue is one of those customers. We are so proud to have made an impact in her life, and wish her much success as she continues her research and career.

Maddie LaRue is a senior biology major at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and preparing to pursue graduate ecology degrees upon graduation. Her passion for environmental studies fully blossomed last summer when she was invited to participate in the Polaris Project, and traveled to the Siberian Arctic to study how nutrient additions and food structure changes impact enzyme production in water-borne bacteria. The Polaris Project is an innovative international collaboration among students, teachers, and scientists. Funded by the National Science Foundation since 2008, the Polaris Project trains future leaders in arctic research and informs the public about the Arctic and global climate change.

Siberia’s remote Kolyma River region is covered in permafrost, with a different nutrient composition and less complicated chemical structure than soils found elsewhere in the world. This less complex structure means that bacteria use fewer enzymes to digest the permafrost soil compared to other soils. Upon digestion, the bacteria release carbon dioxide gas into the air. Maddie’s research showed that permafrost thawing, and subsequent digestion by bacteria, could potentially release more carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere, thus creating a feedback loop that contributes to global warming.

As part of her research, Maddie used BioTek’s PowerWave™ Microplate Spectrophotometer with Gen5™ Data Analysis Software to measure the bacteria’s enzyme activity over time and with the addition of various nutrients and chemicals. She notes, “I never worked with this sort of equipment before, but was surprised with how user-friendly the software was.” Maddie and her advisors were able to obtain more data than expected during the summer, and are hoping to publish their findings soon. “Without your software and lab equipment we would not have been able to accomplish so much under difficult conditions in such a remote area,” she notes. “I fell in love with the work I accomplished in Russia using BioTek software and am now pursuing graduate programs for biogeochemistry and microbiology, a field I never knew I was interested in until working with your products.”

This summer, Maddie will continue to study ecology as an intern at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in Falmouth, Massachusetts. WHRC is a private, non-profit research organization focusing on environmental sciences. Their mission is to advance scientific discovery and seek science-based solutions for the world’s environmental and economic challenges through research and education on forests, soils, air, and water. Here, Maddie will use BioTek’s instruments and software to investigate differences in microbial decomposition between vegetation types from the Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. She’ll once again rely on BioTek’s products in her research, prompting her to conclude, “I just wanted to thank you for making such fantastic software and lab equipment, your products were incredibly inspirational in my career development.”

Maddie LaRue
Maddie LaRue working with the BioTek PowerWave at Woods Hole Research Center


Woods Hole Research Center  To learn more about the Woods Hole Research Center visit their web site.


Polaris  To learn more about the Polaris Project visit their web site.


Thanks to Maddie LaRue at the Woods Hole Research Center for relating her BioTek experience with us.

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