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Keywords:

  • Bioinformatics;
  • functional genomics;
  • active learning

It has become clear in current scientific pedagogy that the emersion of students in the scientific process in terms of designing, implementing, and analyzing experiments is imperative for their education; as such, it has been our goal to model this active learning process in the classroom and laboratory in the context of a genuine scientific question. Toward this objective, the National Science Foundation funded a collaborative research grant between a primarily undergraduate institution and a research-intensive institution to study the chemotactic responses of the bacterium Pseudomonas putida F1. As part of the project, a new Bioinformatics course was developed in which undergraduates annotate relevant regions of the P. putida F1 genome using Integrated Microbial Genomes Annotation Collaboration Toolkit, a bioinformatics interface specifically developed for undergraduate programs by the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. Based on annotations of putative chemotaxis genes in P. putida F1 and comparative genomics studies, undergraduate students from both institutions developed functional genomics research projects that evolved from the annotations. The purpose of this study is to describe the nature of the NSF grant, the development of the Bioinformatics lecture and wet laboratory course, and how undergraduate student involvement in the project that was initiated in the classroom has served as a springboard for independent undergraduate research projects. © 2012 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 41(1):16–23, 2013