A University of California, Riverside (UCR) news site reports that the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences received a $2.4 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to add sections to the Dynamic Genome Course for freshmen, which provides “research immersion.” Currently, the students do original analysis of plant transposable elements, and new sections will study other model organisms. Susan Wessler, primary investigator on the grant, describes the course in a 2:25 minute video. This program makes me want to put on my lab coat again!
Dynamic Genome is obviously evidence-based in design, drawing from the wealth of literature on what is needed to retain STEM undergraduates. It’s all there – early involvement in research, group problem-solving, learning relevant facts and skills, contribution of new knowledge, and being part of a scientific community.
Do you know what the computer lab in the video needs? A librarian! Those students are designing experiments, which usually begins with doing a literature search for methods previously used. This would be the perfect environment for a librarian to be doing hands-on training in selecting databases, creating search strategies, and evaluating sources. An introduction to the concept of data management would also be relevant to the course’s emphasis on computational biology. Piloting electronic lab notebooks would be another way for a librarian to collaborate with the Dynamic Genome Course. As you can tell, I’m excited about the possibilities.
Actually, for all I know, there is a librarian collaborating with the program. I’m going to contact Susan Wessler and ask. Keep watching the blog to find out the answer!
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