Former Students Co-author Large Study

From the June 2015 Desktop News | Four former students and their faculty mentor, Dr. Laura Reed, are among 1,014 co-authors of a paper published in the journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. The paper represents a huge coordinated effort called the Genome Education Partnership that involves feeding data from undergraduate research projects on bioinformatics into a larger scientific data set.

Of the authors, 940 are students at various universities around the country.

All undergraduates represented in the study are conducting individual, bioinformatics research projects as part of their coursework, and information from those projects is fed into the larger data set managed by the Genome Education Partnership. Bioinformatics, a relatively new science, uses the latest computational techniques to store, organize and analyze information about biology and, in this case, genetics.

Reed, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been involved in the effort since 2011 when she first used the partnership in her Integrated Genetics course. The four UA co-authors are students from that 2011 class.

“I have found (and the associated education research shows) the process to be an exceptional didactic tool for our students,” Reed said. “For example, one of those original four students was inspired to pursue a master’s degree in bioinformatics and plans to apply those skills in the industry after being exposed to bioinformatics through the Genome Education Partnership.

“Efforts like this are a testament to the power of research experiences for our undergraduate students.”

The publication in which the students were featured is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to make bioinformatics research accessible to undergraduate students.