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Conference-based Undergraduate Experiences: Lowering the Barrier for Learning about Computational Biology

Author(s): Anna Ritz

Reed College

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Presentation on how attending conferences can enhance computational biology training for undergraduates at the 2019 Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 01 Jul 2019 doi:10.25334/3BNP-BJ64 - cite this


Computational training is becoming critical for undergraduates who wish to pursue careers in biology. While there are notable exceptions, many small schools (such as primarily undergraduate institutions) do not have the resources or staffing to offer computational biology training within biology departments. Conference attendance can broaden undergraduate participation in computational biology for these resource-limited institutions. Attending computational biology conferences can educate students about computer science applications within biology, empower students with a unique opportunity that few undergraduates obtain, and provide a platform for faculty from other institutions to interact with strong interdisciplinary undergraduates. I argue that this opportunity, which is usually reserved for seniors who contribute to a faculty member's research, should be made available to students in their first few years of college as they explore majors and career paths. I will describe how I integrated conference attendance into an upper-level undergraduate course, show preliminary data assessing the conference experience, and share lessons I learned when helping undergraduates navigate conferences.

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