Incorporating Bioinformatics research in undergraduate education

Alison Hill, Lecturer, Biology
Juliet Noor, Lecturer, Biology

Project Description:

Alison Hill and Julie Noor participated in a workshop sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology on “Incorporating Bioinformatics Research in Undergraduate Education” as part of the Biology curriculum revision. They incorporated things they learned at the Institute in the new labs to accompany the new courses Bio 101 and Bio 102.

Julie Noor commented on the workshop:

I found that AMA’s bioinformatics workshop concentrated a little too much on teaching us several bioinformatics techniques and not enough on how to incorporate these techniques into the classroom.  Perhaps because of this, I did not end up incorporating any of the specific techniques they covered into any of the lab exercises for Biology 102L Genetics and Evolution.  However, I found the overall theme that whenever possible students should be “doing real science” in the classroom, meaning performing real and novel experiments or analyses for which the answer is not known ahead of time, to be eye-opening and it has driven the design of several of the labs for this course.

Alison Hill used what she learned in the workshop for a new lab:

The bioinformatics meeting was tremendously useful in providing me with an overall strategy for designing the lab for Bio 101L.  It became clear to me after this workshop  that it is possible for a lab the size of Bio 101L to be based on a multi-week research project that spans the entire semester and incorporates bioinformatic tools. As a result, our lab design is based on isolating yeast genomic DNA in the second week of lab, cloning the fragments, isolating clones and sequencing. These activities take place over a period of nine weeks in the semester. The last two weeks of the semester in the Bio 101 lab  will be dedicated to using bioinformatic tools for analyzing the nucleotide sequence of the yeast clones.  We will use several exercises that I learned about at the workshop.

Start date: November 2009
Funding awarded: $500