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Alumni Workshop

Group Photo of 2023 National GEP Faculty Workshop attendees

2023 National GEP Faculty Workshop

A total of 87 participants (78 GEP faculty members, three staff, two Virtual TAs, and four collaborators) participated in the 2023 National GEP Faculty Workshop (formerly called Alumni Workshop) held at Washington University in St. Louis. This was the first time the Partnership was able to meet in-person for the annual event since 2019. 

The national workshop allowed GEP members to gather to share their experiences teaching GEP materials, develop new curriculum, and work on potential scientific and education research publications including future funding avenues.

Throughout the Workshop, many folks continued to mention how different it was to be able to gather in person rather than virtually on Zoom. Initially it almost felt as if we were meeting each other for the first time rather than having worked closely for several years. Many folks were surprisingly taller or younger (we agreed that Zoom ages us). 

Steering Committee Working Day

The Steering Committee arrived on June 5th to hold a working day packed with recaps from the prior academic year, the current status of GEP grants, Committee-specific planning sessions for final preparations of Working Groups, and opportunities for informal networking. 

Faculty Workshop

The official workshop kicked off on the evening of June 6 and ran through midday of June 9. Professor Jef D. Boeke from NYU Langone Health and Professor Erin Dolan from the University of Georgia provided keynote talks. There were four sessions of implementation lightning talks and three sessions of Working Groups.

Science Keynote - Transposable elements: part of the dark matter of the genome

Keynote Jef D Boeke PhD Talk is on Transposable elements: part of the dark matter of the genome At 2pm in Rebstock 215 Dr. Boeke is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the Sol and Judith Bergstein Director of the Institute of System Genetics

Dr. Jef D. Boeke provided the scientific research keynote talk in which he shared his expertise on genome engineering and transposable elements. His keynote presentation on the Dark Matter Project (e.g., creating a humanized mouse model of ACE2 to study the pathology of COVID-19), and on the mutations induced by LINE-1 retrotransposons that drive human evolution (e.g., loss of the tail) were fascinating.

We also appreciated Dr. Boeke’s insights on the best way to incorporate transposons into the introductory biology curriculum. The Working Group K discussions provided members with several ideas on how students can use the Genome Browser to investigate transposons in the human genome — such as examining transposon insertions found in a subset of the human population, and investigating genes (e.g., Hox genes) that have low transposon density.

Lastly, Dr. Boeke shared his experiences (and the challenges) associated with his botanical expedition to the tropical Andes Mountains in the 1970s. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with him on the transposon curriculum, and to explore potential ways to incorporate genome engineering (e.g., “humanize” a section of the mouse genome) into the GEP curriculum.

Education Keynote - What Makes CUREs “Work?” Insights from experience sampling and instructor talk

Keynote Erin L Dolan PhD Talk is on What Makes CUREs “Work?” Insights from experience sampling and instructor talk At 1:15pm in Rebstock 215 Dr. Dolan is a Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at University of Georgia and the Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Science Education

Most of Dr. Dolan’s data hasn’t yet been published. We respect her wishes to avoid sharing any of it until she has a chance to publish pre-prints this coming academic year.

Extra Working Day

All GEP faculty members were welcome to stay for an extra Committee Working Day. The only requirement was willingness to contribute to the project for one of the Working Groups organized by the GEP Committees. The extra Committee Working Day ran midday June 9 through midday June 10. 


GEP 2021 Alumni Faculty Workshop

The 2021 Alumni Workshop of the Genomics Education Partnership was held June 12-13 and followed a week of one-hour Pre-Workshop events. Over 125 GEP faculty members took part in the online proceedings. GEP Program Director, Dr. Laura Reed, launched the Pre-Workshop events with a “State of the Union” address by outlining GEP’s accomplishments over the 2020/2021 academic year, including the addition of 75 new members (25% increase in membership and 27% increase in institutions). Laura also touched on how the GEP had successfully adapted to remote-learning challenges by establishing an online network of virtual TAs who provided invaluable assistance to GEP students and faculty alike. A highlight of the conference was hearing from lead TA Leon Laskowski regarding the overwhelmingly positive response to the virtual TA network. Equally effective were the ever-popular “implementation lightning talks” – fast-paced, succinct overviews of how faculty have incorporated the GEP curriculum over the past academic year.

The GEP was honored to have Drs. Christopher Miller and Ting Wang, both from Washington University School of Medicine, present illuminating professional development talks on genomics research. Dr. Miller described cutting-edge clinical approaches to treating cancer via personalized genomic medicine, while Dr. Wang presented a fascinating overview of transposable elements and epigenome evolution. Both talks engendered lively discussion among the faculty and were rated as a highlight of the conference.

In addition to learning about cutting-edge genomics research, faculty members were able to actively invest their own knowledge and experience into program projects by taking part in numerous Working Groups based on their areas of interest and expertise. The Working Group format truly allows faculty to engage in the inner workings of the partnership and creates ownership as members participate in collaborative discussions, outline practical next steps, and report back to the faculty body at large with actionable goals and deliverables.

After an extremely challenging year of navigating the challenges of online instruction, many GEP faculty wistfully reminisced about bygone days of reconnecting face-to-face and enjoying the camaraderie and networking that only in-person meetings can offer. However, as Dr. Reed reminded us, we look forward to “next year in St. Louis” and walk away from yet another online event with a renewed sense of resolve and commitment to our shared community.