A portable bioinformatics course for upper-division undergraduate curriculum in sciences

Authors

  • Wely B. Floriano

    Corresponding author
    1. Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona, California 91768
    • Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona, California 91768
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Abstract

This article discusses the challenges that bioinformatics education is facing and describes a bioinformatics course that is successfully taught at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, to the fourth year undergraduate students in biological sciences, chemistry, and computer science. Information on lecture and computer practice topics, free for academic use software and web links required for the laboratory exercises and student surveys for two instances of the course, is presented. This course emphasizes hands-on experience and focuses on developing practical skills while providing a solid knowledge base for critically applying these skills. It is designed in blocks of 1-hour lecture followed by 2 hours of computer laboratory exercises, both covering the same general topic, for a total of 30 hours of lecture and 60 hours of computer practice. The heavy computational aspect of this course was designed to use a single multiprocessor computer server running Linux, accessible from laptops through Virtual Network Computing sessions. The laptops can be either provided by the institution or owned by the individual students. This configuration avoids the need to install and maintain bioinformatics software on each laptop. Only a single installation is required for most bioinformatics software on the Linux server. The content of this course and its software/hardware configuration are well suited for institutions with no dedicated computer laboratory. This author believes that the same model can be successfully implemented in other institutions, especially those who do not have a strong instructional computer technology support such as community colleges and small universities.

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