High School biology teachers explore genomics
Perspectives On Line: The Magazine of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
NC State University

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High School biology teachers explore genomics

High-school teachers get help setting up a DNA sequence from Dr. Ralph Dean (center).  (Photo by Sheri D. Thomas)

Twenty North Carolina high-school biology teachers,
led by Dr. Ralph Dean, director of N.C. State’s Fungal Genomics Laboratory, took part in a weeklong genomics workshop on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

The Relating Genetics to Everyday Life workshop, conducted by the university’s Science House, introduced a new teaching manual with 20 laboratory activities designed to introduce students to genomics, the study of all the genes in an organism.

Through genomics, scientists are identifying the specific building blocks of all the genes in a cell, mapping their locations in relation to the rest of the DNA and studying the function of those genes or combinations of genes. With this knowledge, scientists hope to understand how pathogens attack plants so that they can design new control strategies to make hardier crops and more nutritious food.

The manual and the workshop were developed by N.C. State’s Science House as part of a $6 million National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at using genomics to gain a better understanding of the rice blast fungus, the biggest threat to rice production worldwide.

Dean is widely recognized in the scientific community for his studies of the rice blast fungus and other major disease threats to food crops (see article).

—Dee Shore


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