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Conference on Bioinformatics Education Webcast
This website from the first RECOMB (Research in Computational Molecular Biology) Satellite Conference on Bioinformatics Education contains video talks from a broad range of scientists and science educators in bioinformatics, bioengineering, and computer science. The conference organizers, HHMI Professor Pavel Pevzner of the University of California, San Diego, and Ron Shamir of Tel Aviv University, note that biology has been transformed into an informational and computational science in the last decade, but the college biology curriculum has not kept pace. To address those issues, the 2009 conference showcased best practices, and participants discussed existing challenges in bioinformatics education, particularly those affecting undergraduate education. Some presenters gave introductory-level lectures on problems in biology and the computational concepts needed to address them. Others described their experiences in developing computational biology programs or projects at their respective institutions. For example, Steffen Heber, assistant professor of computer science at North Carolina State University, talked about his institution’s “Bioinformatics in Motion” project, which has developed bioinformatics animations as a teaching tool. Four discussion sessions, also available online, allowed participants to delve into the many educational questions raised by the conference, centering around: “What is bioinformatics and how should it be taught?” A second bioinformatics education conference was held in May 2010.
HHMI Professor: Pavel Pevzner, Ph.D.
Award Years: 2006
Summary: Pavel Pevzner, Ph.D., is an HHMI Professor at the University of California, San Diego, whose research focuses on combinatorial algorithms in computational molecular biology. The goal of his educational initiatives is to introduce biologists to the computational foundations of modern bioinformatics. His HHMI-funded projects include:
- An introductory bioinformatics course that requires no prerequisites and is suitable for all undergraduate biology students.
- A research course in bioinformatics in which undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members collaborate on the same research project. The goals of this course are to teach undergraduates to work as a team and to write a research paper; to prepare undergraduate students and postdocs to teach; and to encourage interaction between bioinformatics students from different fields of study. Undergraduates recruited to the program will also spend summers as research interns, rotating through participating labs.
- The UBER-Grid (Undergraduate Bioinformatics E-Research Grid)—a platform for worldwide, distributed bioinformatics research projects. The UBER-Grid connects two communities: Undergraduate students across the globe who want to participate in bioinformatics research but do not have adequate local resources and guidance, and researchers who have interesting project ideas and data for student use and a willingness to guide undergraduate students in the collaborative E-Research framework.
- A Bioinformatics Education Conference, RECOMB, whose purpose is to showcase best practices and discuss challenges in bioinformatics education. The first conference, which took place in March 2009, promoted collaborations among educators in order to develop a curriculum that reflects state-of-the-art bioinformatics. A second conference is planned for May 2010.
- The Bioinformatics Education Alliance, whose goal is to prepare a textbook, Bioinformatics for Biologists, slated for publication in 2010.