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Department of Energy Awards Mount Marty College Partnership


Published Date12\22\2011
Mount Marty College's biology department has been chosen as one of just 16 undergraduate institutions internationally to participate in the 2012 The Undergraduate Research Program in Microbial Genome Annotation. The program is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The "Interpret a Genome" Program provides students in colleges and universities with access to recently sequenced microbial genomes selected as part of the DOE JGI's Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project. The students analyze and annotate the genomes in the context of their own classwork, gaining hands-on knowledge.

The research experience provides students with a real-world opportunity to study complete sequences of microorganisms and to make new discoveries that improve the scientific community as a whole. Ultimately, the program's goal is to allow students nationwide to annotate GEBA genomes while learning about genomics and bioinformatics.

Dr. Vicki Geiser, proposal writer and assistant professor of biology at Mount Marty College stated, "This is an exciting opportunity for our students. They'll have the opportunity to see the project progress throughout the different courses it's implemented in, as well as through individual research projects".

Once Mount Marty College is assigned their specific microbe in January, then the classes will begin working on the web-based portals that are supported through the DOE. MMC was chosen as a participant based on the potential the program has to enrich the curriculum with sequence-based research. In addition, the proposed approach has the potential to contribute to the national model for undergraduate research that the DOE is developing.

"Giving undergraduates this opportunity to be involved in a research project such as this and having the potential to be published is a huge thing. Most institutions can't support something on this level on their own so it's a great partnership to be involved in", continued Geiser.

In addition to being admitted to the program, Geiser herself was also awarded a grant through the Microbial Genome Annotation Network (MGAN). This grant will provide her funds to assist with administrative costs of the program, such as travel to the conference held in January. For more information on the DOE JGI visit www.jgi.doe.gov/.