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HHMI Science Education Alliance Membership for Nyack

Posted by Deborah.Walker on Monday June 4, 2012


Dr. Fernando Arzola Jr., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Nyack College, announced that Nyack College has been chosen to participate as an associate member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance (HHMI-SEA).

HHMI, a nonprofit organization with the emphasis on advancing biomedical research and science education, is one of the largest privately funded philanthropies. The Science Education Alliance was established in 2007 to be a catalyst for change in science education and to become a resource for science educators. HHMI has committed over $4 million over the first four years to the first Alliance program – the National Genomics Research Initiative.

Nyack will participate in the prestigious National Genomics Research Initiative, a two part yearlong course in which students are taught science by involving them in scientific discovery on a national scale. The SEA-PHAGES course is aimed at beginning college students, who make real discoveries by doing research on viruses that infect bacteria, known as phage. In the first part of the course, students isolate phage from locally collected samples. Given the diversity of phage, each one is almost certain to be unique, so students get to name their newly identified lifeform. The phage is purified, characterized and DNA isolated. The DNA is sent out to be sequenced between semesters. In the second half of the course, the students receive their phage DNA sequence and they use bioinformatics to analyze and annotate the DNA from their phage.

Says Dean Arzola, “This is a great opportunity for Nyack College students to participate in authentic scientific research which has a national and global impact. Dr. Washington and Dr. Park of the Biology and Chemistry Department will be trained at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Northern Virginia this summer.”

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