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New GEP Publication on Supporting the Democratization of Science During a Pandemic


The initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of course delivery from largely in-person to exclusively remote, thus disrupting the well-established pedagogy of the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP; However, our web-based research adapted well to the remote learning environment. As usual, students who engaged in the GEP’s Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) received digital projects based on genetic information within assembled Drosophila genomes. Adaptations for remote implementation included moving new member faculty training and peer Teaching Assistant office hours from in-person to online. Surprisingly, our faculty membership significantly increased and, hence, the number of supported students. Furthermore, despite the mostly virtual instruction of the 2020–2021 academic year, there was no significant decline in student learning nor attitudes. Based on successfully expanding the GEP CURE within a virtual learning environment, we provide four strategic lessons we infer toward democratizing science education. First, it appears that increasing access to scientific research and professional development opportunities by supporting virtual, cost-free attendance at national conferences attracts more faculty members to educational initiatives. Second, we observed that transitioning new member training to an online platform removed geographical barriers, reducing time and travel demands, and increased access for diverse faculty to join. Third, developing a Virtual Teaching Assistant program increased the availability of peer support, thereby improving the opportunities for student success. Finally, increasing access to web-based technology is critical for providing equitable opportunities for marginalized students to fully participate in research courses. Online CUREs have great potential for democratizing science education.

Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 24.3 (2023): e00039-23.

New GEP Publication

Facilitating Growth through Frustration: Using Genomics Research in a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience

Abstract: A hallmark of the research experience is encountering difficulty and working through those challenges to achieve success. This ability is essential to being a successful scientist, but replicating such challenges in a teaching setting can be difficult. The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP) is a consortium of faculty who engage their students in a genomics Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE). Students participate in genome annotation, generating gene models using multiple lines of experimental evidence. Our observations suggested that the students’ learning experience is continuous and recursive, frequently beginning with frustration but eventually leading to success as they come up with defendable gene models. In order to explore our “formative frustration” hypothesis, we gathered data from faculty via a survey, and from students via both a general survey and a set of student focus groups. Upon analyzing these data, we found that all three datasets mentioned frustration and struggle, as well as learning and better understanding of the scientific process. Bioinformatics projects are particularly well suited to the process of iteration and refinement because iterations can be performed quickly and are inexpensive in both time and money. Based on these findings, we suggest that a dynamic of “formative frustration” is an important aspect for a successful CURE.

Representative comments from student focus groups highlighting the transition from challenges to benefits/successes.

Lopatto D, Rosenwald AG, DiAngelo JR, et al. Facilitating Growth through Frustration: Using Genomics Research in a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2020;21(1):21.1.6. Published 2020 Feb 28. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.2005