Long-term Sabbatical

Bioinformatics: building a novel and effective career path to evolutionary biology

PI(s): Weigang Qiu (Hunter College, City University of New York)
Start Date: 1-Oct-2010
End Date: 30-Jun-2011
Keywords: genomics, disease, education, evolutionary computation, computational modeling

Increasing the number of evolutionary biologists from under-represented student groups faces daunting barriers in urban, biomedical-centered high education institutions. Since 2002, Dr Qiu has been successful in mentoring students through his teaching and research in evolutionary bioinformatics at Hunter College, the most populous campus of the City University of New York. A number of factors appear to contribute to the appeal of evolutionary bioinformatics to urban, working-class students. First, Dr Qiu’s use of evolutionary principles to understand the Lyme disease epidemiology and virulence shows the importance of evolutionary biology to modern biomedical research. Second, bioinformatics is relatively new and students are often excited about it once exposed. Third, bioinformatics research proves to be particularly attractive to computer science and biology majors who are programming-literate or those discouraged by traditional biology learning experience. During the Sabbatical, first, Dr Qiu will complete manuscripts with his undergraduate and graduate students, which are delayed due in large part to his teaching load and curricular development duties. Second, to catalyze a college-wide change, Dr Qiu, in collaboration with colleagues from Hunter and NESCent, will develop evolutionary bioinformatics modules for six core biology-major courses. Third, Dr Qiu will contribute to NESCent Informatics and Education and Outreach projects. Dr Qiu believes that bioinformatics offers a unique, novel, and effective opportunity for introducing under-represented students to evolutionary biology. NESCent’s evolutionary informatics, curricular, and outreach projects are ideal forums for Dr Qiu to share and enhance his mentoring experience.

Related products