Integrating Biological Big Data Research into Student Training and Education

Hong Qin, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

In collaboration with Tuskegee University, Spelman College, and West Virginia University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga proposes a BD Spoke project on the education of biological big data (BBD).

The Spoke mission is to promote the integration and automation of BBD into student training and education. Major educational activities will help faculty and students bridge the gap between big data research and life science communities. Leveraging the team’s expertise in computer science and ecology, the project will offer training workshops on using network models to integrate heterogeneous genomic big data and heterogeneous ecological big data to address big questions in biology. The team will engage faculty and students in developing a protocol to automate field data collection. The team will also prototype automated methods to enhance plant digitization, leveraging the large collection of digitized plant images and meta-information at the Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections, as well as the large ecological datasets in collaboration with the Encyclopedia of Life.

The project’s educational objectives are: (1) Enhance faculty expertise in BBD through summer workshops; (2) Catalyze interdisciplinary collaboration on BBD research and education through hackathons, working groups, and community-building via a Video Education Faculty Network (VEFN); and (3) Develop hands-on, constructively peer-evaluated learning modules incorporating high-quality video tutorials. We will recruit faculty from Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for our workshops, hackathons, and VEFN. The proposed activities will address challenges surrounding the integration and automation of BBD into student research training and education at PUIs and HBUCs. The project will help to bridge gaps between BBD and the fields of systems biology, ecology and evolution, and environmental sciences.

The total of award of this project is $1 million with ~$550K to UTC.

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