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GlobalNSF award to involve students in iBOL

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Barcoding the “Galapagos of the north”

barcodebulletinCalifornia-based Coastal Marine Biolabs (CMB) has received an Education Innovation Award from the National Science Foundation to engage high school students in the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL).

The award is to launch Barcoding Life’s Matrix, a three-year project that will enlist high school students in building a reference DNA barcode library of fish and invertebrate species that inhabit the kelp forests of California’s northern Channel Islands (sometimes called the North American Galapagos because they are home to over 150 endemic or unique species).

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The project will be funded through the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program.

Over the last two years, CMB students representing 20 California cities and four other states have helped biologists at the Channel Islands National Park (CINP) create the first DNA barcode registry of species diversity in any U.S. National Park. In the process, they have generated reference DNA barcodes for marine indicator species monitored by CINP biologists, including rockfish, echinoderms, gastropods, and hydrocorals.

The Barcoding Life’s Matrix Project will broaden student engagement in these efforts through interdisciplinary residential experiences hosted at CMB’s harbor-based biosciences lab and a comprehensive professional development program for high school science teachers.

Through these experiences, students will receive authorship for their generation and submission of DNA barcode data to Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). In doing so, they join a global community of scientists in their efforts to advance iBOL.

The project also involves the creation of technology resources for educational audiences that integrate with BOLD. New tools to capture and manage specimen metadata, streamline the sequence editing process and validate student-generated data are currently under development through an ongoing collaboration between CMB and the BOLD informatics team at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. This “pre-BOLD” user interface will further ensure the accuracy and consistency of student-generated barcode data.

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