Eleven students and two faculty members from Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) spent one week of their winter break this January in an intensive course focused on computational skills, bioinformatics and limb regeneration in axolotls. The course was led by INBRE Bioinformatics Core Director Joel Graber, Ph.D. and James Godwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor at MDI Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) and COBRE Project Leader.
“This immersive short course opened my eyes to the complex problems of real-world experimental design, execution, and analysis. Through grappling with current data from a real lab here in Maine, I learned how raw genetic reads are transformed into useful data for researchers to employ in hypothesis testing and further refinement of experimental design.” – SMCC student KJ Gormley
During the five-day research course, students analyzed previously generated data sets of RNA sequences that are expressed in the tissues of axolotls during the process of regenerating a limb and learned to use command line interface to run up-to-date bioinformatic software. SMCC professors Daniel Moore, Ph.D., and Lareen Smith, Ph.D., supported the training course.
“I am so appreciative for this INBRE experience. It opened my eyes to a field of study that I knew nothing about and helped me to understand the surface of all that it offers. This was an experience conducive to teamwork and problem solving, and it truly reaffirmed my desire to work in a laboratory” – SMCC Health Sciences major Erin McCue
“I really appreciated this opportunity to dive into the world of bioinformatics and working at the command line with the folks at MDIBL. This week gave me a brief and intense experience with research and analysis.” – SMCC student Stephanie Abrams
The course introduced the field of scientific research to undergraduate student Nicole Savoy, who is a liberal studies major at SMCC. She said, “If you have an interest in a research career, this course is invaluable. It helped me establish connections, put me on the path to my next step and taught me a set of knowledge I never would have explored otherwise.”
Over the past twelve years, INBRE has provided funding for SMCC students to participate in summer fellowships at multiple research institutions in Maine, including Bowdoin College, Bates College, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, MDI Biological Laboratory, and the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.