2016 STEM Summer Camp on DNA Biology and Bioinformatics

Article Source: STEM camp article from Gazette Times (July 15, 2016)
Camp website:

In the first part of Thursday's lesson, the students used dissection microscopes to examine bees as they learned about their anatomy and biology.

The second part seemed like it involved a completely different field: In it, students learned about programming basics.

But this particular camp for high school students at Oregon State University was focused on DNA and bioinformatics, a field that specializes in using data tools to aid scientists, so the skill was actually an intrinsic part of the field. The camp, which ends today, is one of 30 summer camps put on by OSU’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy, part of the university's precollege program.

Cathy Law, the head of the STEM Academy, said the camps, which are mostly day camps, served more than 500 students last summer and attract students from across the state. They even attract a handful of students from outside the country.

She said the purpose of the camps is not just to highlight STEM fields and OSU, but also to offer general encouragement to students to pursue education beyond high school, even if that is community college.

The program gave out $11,000 in scholarships last year for the camps, Law said.

Pankaj Jaiswal, an associate professor in the department of plant pathology who organized the DNA and bioinformatics camp, said that students in the camp got to do hands-on science activities that many graduate students in the field haven’t done.

Jaiswal said he’s organized the camp since the summer of 2013 as a way to engage students in science early and potentially bring them into the field. It also helps him meet outreach requirements in his National Science Foundation grants.

In addition to the bee activity, students tackled bacterial genome sequencing, stained and visualized skin tumor samples they also processed, and cultured malignant cancer cells and did cancer cell imaging, analysis, and phenotyping.

Jaiswal said the common theme through the lessons: they're all connected to DNA, the genome, and genetics.

He said organizers structure the camp to emphasize hands-on activities rather than just listening to lectures. Doing activities by hand, he said, "is a different experience as it helps in retaining the knowledge."

Kirah Lucier, a White City resident who will start her sophomore year at Eagle Point High School this fall, said she decided to do the camp because she likes science.

“Science is one of the few things I’ve had in school that really spikes my interest,” she said. And the hands-on activities are central to that.

“For me, a hands-on experience helps me learn better,” she said. “With hands-on activities you get experience and you get to have fun.”


Author of the roiginal source article Anthony Rimel can be reached at, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

Postdoctoral Position in Bioinformatics- Aberystwyth University, UK

Postdoctoral Position in Bioinformatics
An NSF-funded three-year postdoctoral position in Bioinformatics is available from 1st August 2015 in the laboratory of Dr. George Gkoutos (Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Group) and in collaboration with Prof. John Doonan (National Phenomics Centre, IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, UK.

The post will include ontology development, data analysis, integration and mining. and other modalities. With a strong background in bioinformatics, the post-holder will have expertise in Semantic Web technologies, ontology and data mining techniques. They will be part of a large international team focused on developing novel computational methodology to support next generation plant phenotyping. Excellent leadership and communication skills will enable the post-holder to interface with specialists and non-specialists nationally and internationally to deliver the specific needs of a wide user community.

Applicants must possess a relevant PhD or equivalent qualification/experience in a related field of study. We are particularly seeking a candidate with experience semantic representation (OWL, RDF, SPARQL, Linked Data) and integration, data analysis, biostatistics, strong programming skills, text mining, and natural language processing. Experience in genomics, genetics and/or plant biology would be beneficial but not essential.

For full application details please follow this link:

Application closing date is 17 June 2015.

For further information please contact Dr George Gkoutos
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