Course taught primarily online. Students will attend introductory classes on campus and access instructional materials upon returning home at hours that suit their own schedules. This instruction may include lectures recorded by their professor, tutorials, videos, readings and group work. Readings and assignments will be available via AU's Blackboard platform. Professors remain accessible to student questions 30 days after the on-campus segment.
Course Description: Recent advances in the study of genome function reveal the fluidity and flexibility of the information encoded in our DNA. Gene structure, gene positioning within chromosomes, non-coding DNA sequences and the chemical structure of the nucleotides are all factors in how genetics impact our daily lives and development. Biotechnology is the collection of tools scientists use to manipulate and modify genomes for use in pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture and the criminal justice system. Techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, and molecular cloning allows us to isolate and characterize portions of DNA, so we may ultimately create new DNA sequences, new proteins and even entirely synthetic organisms. Students in this course will obtain and analyze a variable gene (CDK) from their classmates using PCR and DNA sequencing. A course database of CDK gene sequences will be organized and analyzed with tools and methods designed by each student based on their own hypotheses and experimental design. This project will provide first-hand experience in the biotechnology fields of genomics and proteomics.
Professor: Dr. Kathryn Walters-Conte is a DC-area native who obtained her bachelors degree in physiology and neurobiology from the University of Maryland--College Park. Afterwards, she completed a master's degree in forensic science and then a PhD in genomics at the George Washington University. She did postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania. She is now a lecturer in biology and public health at American University, where she is also the director of the biotechnology masters program. Dr. Walters' research is focused on the molecular evolution of transposable elements in mammals, specifically in the cat family, Felidae, and rodent family, Murinae. In recent years, Dr. Walters-Conte has served in several public forums to promote the inclusion of women and minorities in science. Outside of the university, Dr. Walters is a busy mother of two, who spends her free time training for distance running events and triathlons.