ASM/JGI Bioinformatics Institute:
Incorporating Bioinformatics Research in Undergraduate Education
“The availability of large numbers of complete microbial genomes, coupled with an increasing number of tools for studying these genomes in classes and wet laboratories, provides a rich learning environment for students from general education to science and pre-professional programs.”
Think about your undergraduate students. Now imagine that each one produces a bit of novel data that offers new insight into a biological problem. How can this be done? What biological problems or questions are answerable through courses or even a single laboratory activity? What research experiences are appropriate for a general biology course? How about cell biology? Genetics? Biochemistry? Microbiology? The answers to these questions can all be found in genomics and bioinformatics. The two subjects permeate all life science classes, but how do we connect new knowledge in these areas to the undergraduate research experience that we value so highly?
Two ASM faculty residencies — one on bioinformatics and another on functional genomics — seek to support undergraduate science faculty in student-driven, interdisciplinary research. Through these two residencies, your students should have opportunities to
• Understand the role of scientific research
• Engage in a process of discovery around novel and unique questions
• Seek out independent research opportunities
Both residencies are directed to science, math, and computer science faculty who
• Teach undergraduate courses at community colleges, 4-year colleges, or research universities
• Have little or no training in bioinformatics or genomic sciences
• Have little or no training in introducing bioinformatics and genomic sciences in undergraduate courses
Both individual and team applications from a single institution are encouraged.
The common learning goals for completion of the program include that you will be able to
• Identify testable hypotheses that apply to your research and teaching
• Develop a plan for you and your students to work side by side to test a hypothesis in a class or in a wet-lab setting
• Develop curriculum activities, problem or data sets, course exercises and/or research projects that can be incorporated in courses easily and immediately
• Participate in a community to foster future practice, troubleshooting, and sharing of expertise and resources
• Practice a holistic approach to understanding the scientific process
While the two residencies share common learning goals, they also have unique learning goals. As a participant of the Bioinformatics Residency, you will learn about and practice using tools involved in analysis of gene and protein sequence/structure, comparative genomics, and evolutionary analysis.
The program format is based on research about how adults learn, and the residencies use a virtual model that includes the following:
• Yearlong program that begins with intensive on-site training, continues with guidance in a supportive, virtual community, and ends with a capstone experience that ensures deep learning
• Applications describing your professional and personal goals, impact of training on student learning, and institutional commitment
• Intensive 4-day institute to kick off your residency and establish the community
• Pre- and post-institute assignments that keep you on task and abreast of the work
• Capstone experience (10 to 15 months after initial acceptance) that helps you reconnect with the community, reflect on your journey, revisit issues and resume your work. The capstone is held annually in conjunction with the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators
• Presentations and publications of curriculum activities, problem or data sets, course exercises and/or research projects 18-30 months after initial acceptance promoting national dissemination, validation, and visibility
• Agreement to participate in all program evaluation for a minimum of 5 years post acceptance
The kickoff event for each residency is a face-to-face, intensive institute that offers in-depth training in a closely mentored environment. Through a combination of plenary sessions, small-group work, and discussions, each institute provides hands-on practice in finding and using databases, tools, and resources for (i) studying molecular sequences in both classrooms and wet labs and (ii) developing classroom activities and student projects. Discussion, skills training and practice, and pedagogical advice are provided. All participants become part of a larger community of practice to advance interdisciplinary training through bioinformatics and genomic sciences.
The kickoff event for Bioinformatics is held at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC.
The application process for both institutes is the same and requires an application, essays, and recommendations.
Team Leaders at the Bioinformatics Institute
• Brad Goodner, Hiram College, Hiram, OH
• Cheryl Kerfeld, U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA
• Tara Luke, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Galloway, NJ
• Kathleen (KT) Scott, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
The agenda for the kick-off institute is available under the appropriate header at the top of the page.
Sponsorship and Credentials
The ASM genomic sciences residencies are sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology, Hiram College, the team leaders, and their institutions. The American Society for Microbiology is a recipient of the 2000 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Award and was recognized by President Clinton with the 2000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education for its contribution to education in the sciences and engineering. Hiram College has been cited in a number of college and university publications, including Colleges That Change Lives.