A grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust will allow Augustana College faculty and students to engage in next-generation DNA sequencing research.
The $118,062 grant will be used to purchase an Illumina MiniSeq instrument, Nanodrop spectrophotometer, refrigerated shaking incubator, and necessary supplementary equipment and supplies.
“It’s the kind of equipment you don’t find at an undergraduate institution,” said Dr. Kimberly Murphy, associate professor of biology. “It’s the kind of equipment you see at a DNA core sequencing center, like at the University of Iowa, where you have a medical school and graduate programs.”
Dr. Murphy, who co-led the grant request with Dr. Troy Larson, biology professional faculty, said she estimates about 200 Augustana students will utilize the equipment each year.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to use this kind of technology and gain skills that help answer a wide variety of questions within biology and other fields, such as environmental studies,” she said.
Students will use the equipment to conduct original scientific research as part of the biology department’s Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences. This evidence-based and best practice model moves away from a “cookbook”-style laboratory curriculum and toward a more authentic research experience that is typically not accessible at undergraduate institutions.
“This approach provides countless opportunities for asking and answering questions in the sciences and opens the door for authentic research experiences,” Dr. Murphy said.
Dr. Larson said engaging students in Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences creates an environment that resembles a traditional apprenticeship. This framework means students learn by doing, work alongside experienced faculty members and gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge research.
"Equipping our students with the latest DNA sequencing technology opens doors for them to become tomorrow's scientific leaders,” he said. “This state-of-the-art equipment will allow them to conduct original research and develop invaluable skills that will prepare them for successful careers in a variety of fields."
Muscatine-based Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust supports biomedical and scientific research, scholarships, and programs addressing the educational and recreational needs of youth. It is one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in Iowa, with assets of more than $400 million and annual grant distributions exceeding $16 million.
Nicole Lauer, 309-794-7645