Spring January 2010
Genomics is not only essential for students to understand biology but also provides unprecedented opportunities for undergraduate research. The goal of the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a collaboration between a growing number of colleges and universities around the country and the Department of Biology and Genome Center of Washington University in St. Louis, is to provide such research opportunities. Using a versatile curriculum that has been adapted to many different class settings, GEP undergraduates undertake projects to bring draft-quality genomic sequence up to high quality and/or participate in the annotation of these sequences. GEP undergraduates have improved more than 2 million bases of draft genomic sequence from several species of Drosophila and have produced hundreds of gene models using evidence-based manual annotation. Students appreciate their ability to make a contribution to ongoing research, and report increased independence and a more active learning approach after participation in GEP projects. They show knowledge gains on pre- and postcourse quizzes about genes and genomes and in bioinformatic analysis. Participating faculty also report professional gains, increased access to genomics-related technology, and an overall positive experience. We have found that using a genomics research project as the core of a laboratory course is rewarding for both faculty and students.