Students Discover: Projects in the Genomics and Microbiology Lab

Get down and dirty with scientists in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Genomics & Microbiology Lab as you explore the vast biodiversity of soil microbes!

The soil is home to a huge diversity of bacteria and fungi. How are we (humans!) and these organisms connected? The scientists in the Genomics and Microbiology Lab are interested in measuring how microbes respond to urbanization, flooding, and global warming; discovering and identifying novel compounds (antibiotics and anti-cancer agents) produced by soil microbes; and examining symbiotic relationships between soil microbes and other soil residents, such as plants, nematodes, insects, worms, etc.

Learn some of the tools and techniques used in this work as you engage in original research projects with the team. Kenan Fellows will be involved in collecting and deciphering DNA sequence data collected from a diverse array of organisms – primates, fishes, salamanders, turtles, mussels, face mites, planthoppers, and even the bacteria and fungi that live on and in these critters.

Based on this work, you will engage in real research and help co-create, implement and refine modules aligned with the NC Middle School curriculum standards. These modules will include resources for immersing students in the data collection, underlying science concepts and the statistical analysis of the data. In an effort to engage the public, you will also organize community events in your district to educate parents and community members. Finally, you will work with researchers and educators from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Science House to implement professional development designed to help other teachers learn to engage their students in citizen science projects.

Fellows working on this project will conduct a three-day workshop for larger groups of teachers during the summer following their one-year traditional fellowship. Beyond these requirements, the Wake County Kenan Fellows selected for this project will work with the district to develop a model, intensive, 12-day Summer Bridge and Saturday Academy program for at-risk rising 9th graders that incorporates the ‘Citizen Science’ module.


Dr. Julie Urban, NC Museum of Natural Sciences


Raleigh, NC


National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership