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J Biomol Tech. 2010 September; 21(3 Suppl): S74.
PMCID: PMC2918184

The VGN Bioinformatics Module: Putting Data Mining in the Hands of Undergraduates



The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) Outreach Core's mission is to bring cutting-edge technology and knowledge to undergraduates at colleges throughout the state of Vermont. One goal of the VGN Outreach Core is to familiarize undergraduates with data mining tools necessary for careers in research. The Bioinformatics Module “Introduction to Data Mining” is a five session module that covers topics including; Literature Searches, Sequence Data Bases, Blast, Multiple Alignments and Phylogeny, Protein Structure Data Bases and 3D viewers. Tutorials are available in an online format with up to three exercises per session that must be completed and submitted online to demonstrate the student's familiarization with the tools. Each student is also assigned a data mining research project focusing on a specific disease. The projects are designed to allow the students to independently use the tools that they have learned each session. The final project presentation consists of a poster session where students describe their specific disease, the gene and protein associated with the disease, as well as describing the molecular defect and how the defect could lead to the clinical phenotype. These poster sessions are commonly open to faculty, staff and students at the undergraduate college, allowing students to further cultivate their presentation skills. In 2008 and 2009, we conducted an anonymous survey of the students participating in the bioinformatics module. 73% (58 of 80 students) responded. 83% (48 or 58) agreed or strongly agreed that they learned new tools for data mining that will be useful to them in the future. We asked about their final poster presentation and 76% (46 of 58) agreed or strongly agreed that by preparing the final presentation the purpose of this module became clearer. Examples of student posters will be shown.

Articles from Journal of Biomolecular Techniques : JBT are provided here courtesy of The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities