Lecture Date: September 13, 2012
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: Simmons Hall, Room 111
Workshop Date: September 13, 2012
Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Location: Crouse Hall, Room 119
Lecture Topic: Biology, Genes, and the Hunt for Mutants
Workshop Topic: IMG-ACT: A National Platform for Undergraduate Involvement in Genomic Analysis
Brad Goodner is Professor of Biology at Hiram College, where he holds the Edward J. Smerek Endowed Chair of Mathematics, the Sciences, & Technology. He also serves as Director of the Center for Deciphering Life's Languages, a center of excellence that focuses on within-course research and other student-faculty research collaborations as a driving force for undergraduate education in the molecular life sciences. Dr. Goodner received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Purdue University. After a postdoctoral position at University of North Carolina and 7 years as a faculty member at University of Richmond, he joined the Hiram College faculty in 2001. He currently teaches Introductory Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, and Plant Physiology for life science majors, Medical Microbiology for nursing students, and an interdisciplinary course in Bioinformatics. Genomics and bioinformatics research projects are incorporated into each one of these courses and many students move on to independent research projects. Dr. Goodner and his students use a variety of genetic and genomic tools to understand how “simple” bacteria do their thing. Specifically, they are interested in how bacteria organize their genomes and how they interact with their environment and with other organisms. There are two parallel tracks and one overarching umbrella to this work. One track involves the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary analysis of one particular bacterial genus (Agrobacterium). The second track is comparative analysis of many bacterial species using genomic mapping and sequencing as the major tools. The umbrella covering these tracks is incorporation of research as part of courses at Hiram College and through outreach to area high schools.
There are now more than 3000 organisms for which we know their complete DNA sequence and it is now possible to sequence a human genome (3 billion bits of information) for less than $5000. So don't we know everything by now? It turns out that a genome sequence can answer a lot of questions, but it generates even more hypotheses that need to be tested in the lab. It turns out that genetic methods that have been around for quite a while, like generating mutants, are still quite valuable to test these hypotheses and undergraduates can conduct this research while learning the basics of genetics and molecular biology. I will show you why mutants still matter and how we have used them to learn about the complex behavior of a "simple" bacterium.
More and more faculty are realizing that they need to introduce genomics and the bioinformatics tools involved in analyzing genomes, but how can you do it for a lot of students at one time? The U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, which runs the Integrated Microbial Genomes (IMG) Database has worked with undergrad educators to develop a Web-accessible national genome analysis platform called IMG-ACT. In this short workshop, I will show you how you can use IMG-ACT to bring genomic analysis into your classroom in a way that meshes with your course learning goals while allowing for an authentic research experience for your students.