WWU Professor Co-Authors Article in Science Journal

Dr. Mary SprattDr. Mary Spratt, William Woods University Cox Distinguished Professor of Biology and the 2008 Missouri Professor of the Year, was recently published in the science education section of the prestigious weekly journal, Science.


The article that she co-authored, “Genomics Education Partnership,” is about the innovative Genomics Education project (GEP) in which WWU students participated.


The GEP is a collaborative undergraduate research consortium focusing on the biological sciences, computer information and mathematical modeling programs in colleges and universities throughout the United States.


The program is headed by Dr. Sarah Elgin of Washington University in St. Louis, who together with her staff coordinates the research in conjunction with the Genome Sequencing Center. It ultimately gives students the opportunity to participate in the sequencing and annotation of as-yet unpublished genomes. A genome is the entire DNA blueprint for building an organism such as a plant, animal, bacteria or fungus.


According to Spratt, the article highlights the benefit of giving undergraduate students a chance to do research.


“The goal of the project is to involve undergraduate students in the excitement of real, meaningful research that is of use to the scientific community. In general, the article gives evidence that this kind of group research is both cost-effective and as effective as individually mentored summer research projects in providing positive research experience for undergraduates.”


The GEP began in 2006 with only 18 schools. WWU joined in 2007 and, with the addition of new participants this year, there are currently about 50 participating institutions.


Spratt said, “We have been very fortunate to be in on the ‘ground floor’ of this endeavor and to have the support of WWU for participating in it.”