With two grants totaling more than $4 million, The University of Alabama leads a national effort to continue and expand undergraduate science courses that engage students in active research.
Dr. Laura K. Reed, UA associate professor of biological sciences, is the director of the Genomics Education Partnership, a collaboration of more than 100 institutions that reaches about 1,300 students annually, many at minority-serving institutions.
The GEP uses curriculum on molecular biology and bioinformatics to engage students in authentic research ultimately published in scientific journals.
“The University of Alabama is leading the nation in one of the top undergraduate research programs,” Reed said. “Our work with the Genomics Education Partnership is consistent with the University’s dedication to active learning and broadening undergraduate research opportunities.”
The project is supported by two recently awarded five-year grants. A $2.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health and a $1.99 million grant from the National Science Foundation will expand the GEP to more institutions and build regional communities of professors who can support and mentor each other through internet-enabled interaction.
The goal of the new grants is to nearly double the number of professors teaching the curriculum so more students can engage in the research.
At UA, Reed has taught GEP as an upper-level course, with student co-authors on papers published in major scientific journals. Each institution can decide how best to offer the curriculum, so some of the classes are designed for freshman or non-majors, she said.
“The strategies are different, but all students in the program make genuine scientific contribution,” Reed said.