Applications now open for the summer 2015 “Bioinformatics & Biodiversity” Undergraduate Workshop

Following on from a highly successful event last year, we’re very excited to announce the second annual “Bioinformatics & Biodiversity” Undergraduate Workshop at the University of New Hampshire, scheduled for July 27-30, 2015 in Durham, NH. Click here to download a PDF flyer – we encourage you to post and share this opportunity!

2015_workshop_flyer

Microscopic eukaryotes (meiofauna e.g. nematode worms, copepods, protists, fungi, etc.) are some of the most abundant animals on Earth, but species within these groups are often overlooked by the general public and even many biologists. This NSF-sponsored workshop will explore the field of environmental DNA sequencing, including collection and analysis of data. Students will learn how high-throughput approaches (rRNA gene surveys, metagenomics) are being used to investigate the biodiversity of microbial eukaryotes and deepen our knowledge of ecosystem function. The workshop program will be a combination of lectures and practical exercises, where students will learn about traditional taxonomic approaches and also gain experience using the command line and bioinformatics tools to analyze environmental DNA datasets.

We welcome applications from undergraduates currently enrolled in any higher-educational institution in the USA.  All applicants are expected to have taken, at minimum, an introductory college-level course in Biology. Successful applicants will receive a stipend to cover all costs including travel.

To apply, e-mail the following materials to eukhits@gmail.com by Monday April 13, 2015:

  • Curriculum Vitae (including contact details for references)
  • Statement of interest (indicating biology courses taken and how attending the workshop would benefit your long-term career goals; maximum length 1 page)
  • Reference letters are recommended but not required

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can international/overseas students apply for this workshop? 

A.  No, unfortunately workshop application is restricted to students currently enrolled at US-based institutes (which includes international students attending US colleges). For future workshops we may extend the application process to students enrolled at overseas institutes (this will depend on the conditions of our funding). Thanks for your interest, and keep an eye on on the RCN website for future opportunities.

Q. For the CV (including references), exactly how many and what kind of references are preferred? 

A. One letter of recommendation can accompany the application (written by a professor or research supervisor) – this is optional, but may significantly increase the strength of your application. On your CV you can also list contact information for any additional professional references (up to three references); for example, you may want to list references relating to any relevant work experience or research projects.

 

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Wrap-up post – “Ecometagenomics” Symposium at BES/SFE meeting

Thanks to everyone who attended our Symposium at the Joint British/French Ecological Society Meeting last week in Lille, France –  “Accelerating ecology and biodiversity research via ecometagenomics: species, communities and environmental DNA”. A collection of Tweets from this session is now available here on Storify.

We had a great turnout for the meeting session, followed by a hugely successful wine & cheese social sponsored in conjunction with the BES Plants, Soils, and Ecosystems Special Interest Group. And of course we managed to find plenty of holiday cheer walking around the streets of Lille!

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Simon, Dorota, Holly and Serita (left to right), on their way to the wine & cheese social!

 

ESA 2014 – Workshop materials posted

Thanks to everyone for coming out to our workshop at the ESA 2014 annual meeting, entitled “Environmental sequencing approaches and computational tools for ecologists”. We had a great group of participants who helped facilitate some very productive discussions!

Our workshop materials have now been posted online:

  • QIIME demonstration and discussion (PDF slides – Dorota Porazinska and Zhenjiang Xu, University of Colorado, Boulder) Topics covered:
    • Demonstration with default vs. modified parameters in software workflows (covering the different options possible, and how to modify them for different datasets and questions)
    • Explanation of how files are generated, what the software outputs look like, and how users can make use of the different files
    • Discussion will include data visualization tools for data analysis and exploration

RCN EukHiTS 2014 Annual Meeting to be held in conjunction with ESA in Sacramento, CA

The RCN EukHiTS annual catalysis meeting venue has just been announced; this year’s event will be held in conjunction with the Ecological Society of America’s 2014 Annual Meeting to be held in Sacramento, California, August 10-15, 2014. The main events will consist of a hands-on workshop and a special session that includes talks and discussion (times and abstracts listed below).

Workshops #9884: “Environmental sequencing approaches and computational tools for ecologists”
Sunday, August 10, 2014
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Description: This workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary pool of researchers to discuss current approaches, challenges, and future directions for environmental sequencing studies (-omic studies of bacteria, archaea and microbial eukaryotes). The workshop program will introduce ecologists to common data types and scientific workflows currently employed for the analysis of high-throughput sequencing data (e.g. Illumina/454). Participants will be given overview presentations and hands-on demonstrations for a number of different approaches, including rRNA marker gene analysis, shotgun metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics. This workshop will introduce participants to computational biology tools and software pipelines which can be harnessed for DNA/RNA-based “ecometagenomic” studies. In addition, we aim to solicit feedback from workshop participants, fostering discussions on how to establish better links between traditional ecological research and new, high-throughput sequencing approaches.

Special Sessions #9883:”Ecometagenomics”
Monday, August 11, 2014
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM

Description: The goal of this session is to catalyze cross-disciplinary discussions between the ecology and environmental sequencing communities.  High-throughput sequencing technologies now offer tremendous opportunities to make major inroads into our understanding of global biodiversity and biogeographic patterns. However, in order to make the most of emerging high-throughput sequencing approaches, we must move towards a “systems ecology” mindset, drawing expertise from diverse disciplines. For microbial eukaryotic taxa in particular, we can now conduct en mass biodiversity assessment using traditional loci (rRNA genes) at a fraction of the time and cost required for traditional (morphological) approaches. In addition, as databases of genes with functional descriptions expand, metagenomic approaches become useful for elucidating ecosystem function. Despite this promise, current bottlenecks and roadblocks lie in the development of useful distributed tools, links between molecules and morphology/ecology, and common data standards to allow global comparisons across individual studies. This session will begin with an overview of environmental sequencing approaches, introducing participants to the methods, data types and current advantages and limitations of DNA/RNA-based studies. The session is intended to be highly interactive, including brief talks, moderated discussion points, and solicitation of questions and feedback from audience members. This session would stimulate critical discussion related to the 2014 meeting theme of “Its all ecology.” DNA/RNA-based studies represent an emerging ecological discipline, and as such, it is imperative that the growing community of microbial ecologists begins to build strong links to the traditional ecological research that forms the center point of the ESA meetings.

Another ESA session linked to RCN EukHiTS is oral session OOS10: Ecological Genomics as an Emerging Field: Opportunities for Non-model Organisms (organized by Melis Akman, UC Davis)