Biology faculty member Amie McClellan and rising senior Logan Traynor have just returned from a 5-day workshop hosted by the Genomics Education partnership at Washington University in St. Louis (http://gep.wustl.edu/). Dr. Sarah Elgin, the director of the GEP program, kept them on a busy schedule of learning, primarily through hands-on training, how to use bioinformatic tools to annotate and improve regions of genome sequence.
One ultimate goal of the GEP is to demystify the apparent expression of numerous genes on the Drosophila F element, which exists in a highly condensed chromatic state. Amie and Logan learned how to search for genes, locate introns and exons, do comparative sequence analysis amongst related species of Drosophila, and learned of the computational challenges to performing all of these tasks that thus require human eyes and intelligence. Importantly, these experiences will feed into a new course being taught this Fall (Genome Jumpstart) in which students will actively participate in computational GEP research projects, providing an opportunity for original research and inclusion as co-authors on future collaborative publications with the GEP.
They also got the chance to tour The McDonnell Genome Institute
and enjoy some time out of their computer chairs clambering around at the City Museum (yes, they climbed all the way up into that airplane!).
When asked his thoughts on the workshop, Logan said it was “incredibly rigorous, but intensely satisfying”. Amie and Logan are both excited to implement what they’ve learned this coming Fall term in the Genome Jumpstart course!