Help WWU Students do Big Data Science!
We need your help purchasing a high-powered server so our students can take their research skills to the next level. If we can raise $10,000 by December 31st, the Biology Department will contribute matching funds (up to $10,000) so we can offer new classes and research opportunities for students and faculty to work with Big Data. This server will provide a teaching specific resource to help integrate computational skill development into current courses and increase student access to new courses that focus on bioinformatics, computational biology and analyses of large-scale genomic datasets. In doing so, we will be able to provide students with a strong foundation in Biology and training them with the technical and computational skills necessary to be competitive candidates in a technology driven job market!
Why do we need your help?
Western’s focus on undergraduate education and its recent growth in faculty with training in bioinformatics and computational data science position us well to offer our students the hands-on training they need to participate in the growing bioinformatics workforce. We are adding new bioinformatics-related courses and need help purchasing the computing resources required to support these courses. This will be phase I of a strategic plan for expanding scientific computing in the College of Science & Engineering in the coming years.
How will my gift make an impact?
You will help students develop computational and data skills necessary to analyze biological data.
Having access to a teaching specific bioinformatics server will increase the quality of the education by allowing instructors to move beyond the lectures and provide students with authentic class exercises and projects. This includes teaching students about working on remote servers, developing basic command-line skills, accessing public databases and applying scripting languages (e.g. bash, R, python) to test biological questions.
"Being able to take a bioinformatics or genomic analysis class at WWU will help me develop the analytical skills necessary for my career." - Brian Miller, Senior Molecular Cell Biology BS Student
"I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that we (students) get a chance to learn applicable skills in bioinformatics. Our exposure to this fast-growing field and it’s technologies is often brief and superficial despite the multitudinous applications in modern science. Being able to take any possible additional classes in both bioinformatics and genomics will not only better prepare us for our future endeavors, but impart on us skills that will more than likely be highly relevant in the scientific field in the years to come." - Gaea Turman, Senior Molecular Cell Biology BS Student
"I would love to take Bioinformatics and Genetic Analysis classes to learn techniques that would make me competitive in the increasingly data driven fields of Biology and Genetics." - Tanner Thuet, Recent Molecular Cell Biology BS Graduate & Current Biology MS Student
"For my bachelor's degree, I took lots of classes in biology, math, and computer science, but I never had a class that merged all three subjects, which would have been great, especially since my master's thesis project is in computational genetics. Bioinformatics and genomics courses would have been a real benefit for me." - Anastacia Wienecke, Recent Biology-Mathematics BS Graduate & Current Biology MS Student
You will help students conduct projects that focus on analyzing large publicly available datasets.
Current research standards in biology require all published next-generation sequence datasets be deposited in open source databases such as NCBI. Datasets from NCBI are ideal for student research projects because this database spans 10,000s of species and 3.9 petabytes of sequence data, which makes identifying datasets that meet the scope of research projects very tractable. In addition, data generation can be time consuming and beyond the budget of most classes.
You will will increase collaboration
This server will encourage group projects because it will streamline data management and facilitate the sharing of multiple tasks need to complete the analysis of large data sets.
Together these opportunities will make students competitive in a technology driven job market because these systems are commonly used in academic research labs, clinical labs and the biotechnology industry.
Thank you for your help!
Recent Biology-Mathematics BS graduate and current Biology MS student Anastacia Wienecke uses large-scale genomic data and computational approaches to study why different individuals in a population make more or less protein in their cells.