Dr. Austin Shull, biology professor at Presbyterian College, is mentioned this week in a National Geographic article about coronavirus tests. Shull helps provide descriptions of how PCR (or polymerase chain reaction), used in coronavirus testing, works.
The article covers how an enzyme discovered in a microbe living in a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park more than 50 years ago, is now a critical component of PCR tests. PCR tests have been the main way health care workers have identified COVID-19 in patients.
The method is “used widely around the world to examine small samples of genetic material that can be copied millions of time,” the publication reports. These tests detect specific genetic material within the virus.
Testing has played a significant role in tracking the pandemic — and hopefully — slowing its advance, National Geographic reports.
An underlying message of the piece, according to the professor, a molecular biologist, is that studying all types of scientific research matters and should be supported, because “we often underestimate which seemingly unrelated scientific findings will broadly impact us as a society in the future.”