The Genome Consortium for Active Teaching
NextGen Sequencing Group




Bioinformatics Software & Training supported by SoftGenetics
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Initial funding from NSF Award # DBI-1061893: RCN-UBE Incubator:
Transforming Undergraduate Education Through Increased Faculty Access to NextGen Sequencing Runs


The focus of this project is to develop a research and education network of faculty from small, primarily undergraduate institutions with the goal of including novel next-generation DNA sequence analysis in ongoing research, so that these research activities can be incorporated into core courses within the undergraduate life sciences curriculum. The network is collaborating with a genomic sequencing core facility located at Penn State University (University Park) to enable access to state-of-the-art sequencing technology to undergraduate students and faculty at small colleges in the mid-Atlantic region. Initial network participants include Juniata College, Susquehanna University, Duquesne University, Hampton University, Morgan State University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Gettysburg College, Lycoming College, Lock Haven University, Mount Aloysius College, Bucknell University and Hood College, with the genome sequencing facility at Penn State supporting the data acquisition and dissemination aspects of the initiative. Formation of the network is being initiated through 1) a workshop to address the logistics of starting and sustaining a network of faculty interested in using raw DNA sequence for undergraduate research and teaching, and 2) the formulation of a practical plan for obtaining the desired DNA sequence and a standard operating procedure to allow efficient interaction with multiple network participants and a core facility at a research-intensive institution.

Intellectual Merit: Genomics and bioinformatics are dynamic fields well-suited for capturing the imagination of undergraduates in both research laboratories and classrooms. The formal relationship with a research-intensive core can provide an efficient and cost-effective mechanism for acquiring the desired raw sequence data needed for undergraduate research aligned with faculty interest at small colleges. In addition, network faculty will collaborate to develop teaching approaches that incorporate the novel sequence data into core courses within their undergraduate biology curriculum. A regional network can also provide opportunities for faculty and students to meet and present their data for peer-review and to hear from experts on trends in selected areas of genomics and bioinformatics. Anticipated outcomes include increased "real-world" student research experiences for undergraduates and coordination of innovative education initiatives that build from the novel research data collected.

Broader Impacts: By making Penn State's genome sequencing facility more broadly accessible to small, primarily undergraduate colleges in the mid-Atlantic region, this network will provide additional educational opportunities and resources for STEM education and improved opportunity for students to be prepared for graduate, technical and research careers. More broadly, this regional model could be replicated in other geographic regions, using a sequencing core at a local research-intensive university, to support the research and educational activities of undergraduates at small colleges in that region.

This project is being jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Biological Infrastructure and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education as part of their Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education efforts.