New Possibilities in Bioinformatics at Keene State

January 9, 2017

Launen research group
Members of the Launen research group (left to right: Raique Pereira, Caitlin Smith, Lauren Launen, and Brian Moore) collaborate to develop new bioinformatics curriculum content.

As a result of EPSCoR-sponsored research, students at Keene State College now have the opportunity to use genomic approaches in biology and gain skills in bioinformatics analysis. KSC Professor Loren Launen, a researcher on NH EPSCoR’s Safe Beaches & Shellfish project, used genetic sequencing techniques to study a type of pathogenic bacteria in oysters that has been linked to human illness.

Working closely with faculty at UNH and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies there, Launen learned new tools and solved problems very different from traditional environmental microbiology approaches. “Learning new methods and approaches has expanded my appreciation of multi-disciplinary work and the value of a team-based approach,” says Launen.

Launen’s EPSCoR research led to the development of a bioinformatics group at KSC. The group has brought together faculty, staff and students from biology, computer science, and social science to develop new curriculum content. Bioinformatics content is now included in a second-year genetics class, and a new course, Introduction to Genomic Bioinformatics, will be taught in spring 2017. The bioinformatics group has created a blog and students are forming a bioinformatics club. “We intend to become the local genomics knowledge sources at KSC to help other faculty and students develop their research projects,” says Launen.