Topics in Biotechnology (1 credit)
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 for American University: 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.
Professor for University of California--Berkeley: Tovah Salcedo, PhD, is a professorial lecturer in biology. Dr. Salcedo is a population geneticist with an interest in microbial eukaryotes, primarily the alveolates (including the organisms that cause red tides and ciguatera poisoning, the subject of her postdoctoral research at Rutgers University). Her research includes computational, field, and lab components, and is centered on how infection contributes to the rapid evolution of genes involved in disease resistance, as in the mice described in her dissertation at the University of Arizona. Dr. Salcedo is interested in making science accessible to all, and currently maintains a Twitter feed (@AUBio100) and a Tumblr promoting scientific literacy and diverse careers in the sciences, as well as resources for underrepresented students in the sciences (profsalcedo.tumblr.com). At AU, Dr. Salcedo teaches a variety of classes, including oceanography, introductory biology, and evolutionary biology. Outside of science, Dr. Salcedo is a science fiction fan and loves to cook - which most of her students get to experience, in and out of the classroom.
Professor for Northwestern University: Dr. Jennifer Axe is a native of the D.C.-area, born and raised in Burtonsville, MD. She graduated from the University of Maryland –College Park in 2009 with a BS in chemistry and a BS in biological sciences (focus in microbiology). Afterwards, she completed her PhD in chemistry at Penn State University. Her graduate research was focused on elucidating and characterizing the dynamic amino acid networks of the alpha subunit of tryptophan synthase, using nuclear magnetic resonance. When she wasn't working hard in lab, Dr. Axe enjoyed many of her Penn State experiences, especially helping to found the Penn State chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and helping with outreach programs such as Upward Bound. Dr. Axe joined the AU chemistry faculty in the fall 2014 semester and in her first year has taught general chemistry I &II, along with principles of biochemistry and biochemistry II. When she isn't working on lesson plans or grading, Dr. Axe enjoys cooking, camping, and hiking.