Infectious disease, genetic testing, and bioethics will be among the topics presented during the Biotechnology 2007 Conference for science educators at Virginia Tech, July 18-21.
In addition to discussions of recent developments in biotechnology, the conference, which is hosted by the university’s Fralin Biotechnology Center, features hands-on workshops for high school and college instructors to help them teach genetics, genomics, and biotechnology-related concepts and skills.
“The conference, now in its eleventh year, was started as a response to teachers’ requests for professional development in the area of biotechnology,” said Erin Dolan, conference coordinator and assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The teachers are extremely interested in hearing from scientists but are also eager to engage in lab activities they can take back to their own classrooms.”
Session topics include extracting and analyzing DNA, using online databases to teach genetics, using computer visualization to teach molecular structure, and simulating disease outbreaks. Several of the sessions will highlight the center’s new focus on vector-borne infectious disease. In addition, several workshops feature materials funded by Science Education Partnership Awards of the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources.
Keynote speakers include:
- Zach Adelman, assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech presenting “Dengue Viruses and Mosquitoes, Scourge of the Developing World: Can Genetic Control Make a Difference?”
- Evelina Angov of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research presenting “From the Bench to the Field: Experiences with a Malaria Vaccine.”
- David Schmale, assistant professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science at Virginia Tech presenting “Unmanned Aircraft and Aerial Microbes: Scientific Discovery through Innovation and Outreach.”
- Jesus Valenzuela of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health presenting “From ‘Spitomes’ to ‘Vaccinomes’: Molecular Approaches Targeting the Discovery of Insect Salivary Vaccines.”
The conference will also feature two preconference workshops on July 18: “Biotechnology Boot Camp” and “Guiding Student Research.” Attendees will receive Continuing Education Units upon completion of the conference.
Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 2,200 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.