Betsey Dyer (Biology) and Mark LeBlanc (Computer Science)
May 2004 - May 2007: NSF DUE 0340761
"Teaching Genomics to Undergraduate Computer Science and Biology Majors: A model involving infusion and strategic linking."
A. Project Summary
The emerging field of "Genomics" (analysis of DNA sequences) requires interdisciplinary collaborations between computer scientists and biologists. Whereas most colleges and universities do not and may not ever have full programs in bioinformatics/genomics, new models of teaching and course materials are needed if we are to provide undergraduate science majors with experiences in the art of cooperation necessary to solve tomorrow's problems in genomics. A crucial element is the design and implementation of original software by interdisciplinary teams of students -- a focus of this teaching model. We propose a proof-of-concept project to infuse new content into computer science and biology courses and to highlight the natural fit between core areas in the computer science curriculum and challenges in genomics. Furthermore, we propose a "linked" teaching model by which pre-existing courses in computer science are flexibly paired with biology courses to facilitate real-life interdisciplinary collaborations in genomics. Course materials include specifications for guest lectures, shared labs, cooperative programming assignments, and administrative help for final project teams. Expected outcomes include: (1) teaching materials transferable to academic departments (computer science, math, biology, chemistry) of almost any size with little or no changes in staffing or funding, (2) a model for interdisciplinary research, (3) an evaluation of students' knowledge of genomics, appreciation for challenges of undergraduate interdisciplinary research, and the extent of different majors reached, and (4) a range of faculty outside our college who are exposed to and experiment with the infusion of genomics in their curricula using some or all of our model.