HHMI has selected a diverse group of 12 colleges and universities to become part of its Science Education Alliance (SEA). The institutions will join 36 other schools in offering a year-long course that gives first-year students the opportunity to do sophisticated, hands-on research.
The 12 new alliance members include large research universities and small colleges from urban centers and rural towns. Another 14 schools—including a consortium of four Maine colleges—will join SEA as associate members. Faculty from associate member schools, like those at full-member institutions, will attend training sessions to implement the phage course but have the option of offering students an abbreviated version. Director Tuajuanda Jordan is excited that the initiative will now reach students in 29 states and Puerto Rico. "The SEA tide continues to roll."
The course, called the National Genomics Research Initiative (NGRI), is taught in two parts. In the first part, students isolate bacterial viruses, called phage, from local soil samples, purify them, and extract their DNA. In the second part, the students use bioinformatics techniques to analyze the phage's genome. So far, almost 1,700 students have participated in the NGRI course at 39 schools. During the first two years, the students sequenced and annotated 37 phage and then deposited the data in the national GenBank database. Another 50 are expected to be completed this year, Jordan says.
"This experience makes excellent students that much more excited, and it makes students who weren't sure about their level of interest in the life sciences a lot more engaged," says Sean B. Carroll, HHMI's vice president for science education.
The new group will go through training in the coming months and will offer the NGRI course in classrooms beginning in the fall of 2011.
2011 Science Education Alliance Members:
Brown University, Providence, RI
Carthage College, Kenosha, WI
College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN
Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, GA
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR
Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
2011 Associate Members:
Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA
Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
Miami University, Oxford, OH
Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Providence College, Providence, RI
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, ME
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
University of Maine Honors College, Orono, ME
University of Maine at Fort Kent, Fort Kent, ME
University of Maine at Machias, Machias, ME