The Genomics Research Program
Now, selected students can begin genetics research in their first semester of college.
by Michele Jacklin
Trinity has been awarded an associate membership in the National Genomics Research Initiative, an innovative yearlong course that enables first-year students to do research on soil-dwelling bacterial viruses called phage.
During their first year, students will take two courses devoted to virus research and two introductory biology courses that provide a context for their research. They will complete the program in their sophomore year by taking a research seminar in which they read primary literature and discuss themes and problems in biological research. Their efforts will focus on the collection and characterization of a previously unknown virus, its growth patterns, physical structure, and genome. From the new viruses, one will be selected for complete genome sequencing. Students will then analyze the structure of the genome, identifying new genes and adding them to public gene databases.
Genomics is the discipline that studies the total of all of an organism’s genes. The field is rapidly expanding as genetic research promises to have an important impact on our understanding of disease.
Billions of viruses exist that have never been studied. “The chances are that our students will pull viruses from the soil that have never been identified before. So that’s pretty cool,” says Kathleen Archer, associate professor of biology and director of Trinity’s program.
Archer and her colleagues selected the first group of approximately 20 participants from high school seniors who were accepted into Trinity’s Class of 2015. In addition, she will soon target high school juniors who are considering attending Trinity in the fall of 2012. The five-course program is compatible with any major.