The University of Findlay recently was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to purchase a refurbished genetic analyzer, which will be housed in the new portion of the Davis Street Building and used collaboratively by faculty members and students in the areas of biological sciences and forensic science.
Jessica Wooten, Ph.D., and Michael Edelbrock, Ph.D., submitted the grant proposal. NSF is an independent federal agency that funds approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities, according to the organization’s website. NSF’s goals are discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship.
This grant is the first that UF has received from NSF, and according to Edelbrock, it “opens the door” to future grant opportunities. Acquisition of a genetic analyzer will give UF students the opportunity to learn how to use the same type of equipment that they might be expected to use in a forensic laboratory, for example. This type of specific knowledge will make students more marketable to potential employers or graduate schools.
Having the instrument on campus also will eliminate costs and wait periods during research. In the past, the University packaged DNA samples to send to a laboratory in Chicago. Moving that step on site will not only save money and time but also will allow students to be part of the entire research process.
The analyzer provides a variety of information to researchers: obtaining DNA sequences; generating short tandem repeats in DNA code; and generating DNA fragments to compare the relatedness of individuals.
Both Wooten and Edelbrock look forward to developing interdisciplinary and collaborative research opportunities among research both on campus and off campus. In addition to benefitting UF’s students and faculty members, the addition of a genetic analyzer also will benefit high school students in the community through existing outreach activities. UF hosts a DNA Day; offers a dual-enrollment program (UF-University School Articulation) for students who want to start their college careers early; hosts a forensic science camp during the summer; and is working with students this summer to introduce them to scientific research.
As with other scientific research, the work done at UF will be disseminated to the broader scientific research community through peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals and at scientific meetings.