Genomics and its intersection with the microbiome and the environment encompasses many paths of inquiry, including science, social justice, ethics and fundamental questions of what it means to be human. A key tenet of GEM is that “omic” literacy should start as early as possible. Therefore GEM has partnered with local schools, particularly within the city of Buffalo, to integrate genomic and microbiomic themes into their curricula.
In partnership with elementary schools, high schools and other educational partners, we will establish genomics and microbiome themes in the curricula. GEM wishes to reach all students, not just those that naturally gravitate towards science. Therefore scientists, artists, social scientists and humanists within GEM will collaborate to engage students in innovative programs that introduce the concepts of the genome and microbiome and the related social implications.
GEM has developed units on the microbiome for second grade and on genetic mutation for 8th grade. GEM also co-sponsors and organizes an annual Genome Day in March that brings approximately 400 eighth graders from the city of Buffalo to the University to attend talks at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and perform experiments at the Center of Excellence Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS). Led by volunteer graduate students, post-docs, and faculty from across the GEM community, the eighth graders isolated their own DNA, learned about DNA sequencing and mutations, and tried out DNA origami. Volunteers for this event came from Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Professions and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
All of these initiatives involve broad-based collaborations between scientists, social scientists, performance and visual artists, and trained educators at UB. They also provide unique opportunities for graduate students to teach and to engage with our broader community and are facilitated by the GEM education coordinator, Dr. Sandra Small.
We will integrate genomic themes across the disciplines at UB. This will include:
Throughout the year, GEM offers opportunities for UB undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in the community.