One Fish, Two Fish, Sequence Fish 

Community college student from seven Inland Empire campuses will use molecular biology as they extract DNA sequence from a sample of store-bought fish.

Sequencing to Success teaches DNA research skills to community college students. In the photo, a 2016 cohort works with corn seeds. jim burnette

At least 60 community college students from seven Inland Empire campuses will begin a four-week program with hands-on laboratory work as they learn how to extract DNA and DNA sequencing techniques from a sample of store-bought fish.

This, along with other molecular biology work, will be completed on their first visit to UCR’s Dynamic Genome lab on Feb. 25. It’s part of Sequencing to Success, a program designed specifically for community college transfer students.

Feb. 25 will serve as an all-day introduction centered around one question: are fish at the grocery store properly labeled?

It will take students four weeks of research and analysis using DNA Subway, a gene annotation and genome analysis tool – along with support from Dynamic Genome staff and other UCR faculty – to complete their work, which will culminate in a poster presentation on March 25.

The program is primarily offered to community college students looking to transfer into a four-year institution. Participation is free to all students; cohort expenses are covered by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and United States Department of Agriculture-Hispanic Serving Institutions (USDA-HSI) grant program funds. Most participants are first generation college students who come from under-represented minorities, or from low socio-economic backgrounds.

This is the fifth year Sequencing to Success is offered at UCR. In the past four years 144 community college students have participated; 48 were accepted last year and this year a cohort of at least 60 community college students is expected from Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College, Mount San Jacinto College, Riverside City College, RCC-Moreno Valley, RCC-Norco, and San Bernardino Valley College.

In addition to learning about science, participants interact with current UCR students and ask about college life, majors, and course requirements, said Jim Burnette, academic coordinator and co-director of the Dynamic Genome program at UCR’s Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Lab.

“Sequencing to Success gives community college students the opportunity to visit a UC campus, learn to use authentic research equipment and interact with faculty, instructors and students. Many potential transfer students do not realize that UCR faculty and staff are very interested in recruiting them into their research labs,” Burnette said.

Scott Herrick, Riverside Community College professor, is a big supporter of the program and has had some of his own students participate in Sequencing to Success. The DNA Subway and barcoding program that students get to use helps hone their laboratory skills, he said.

“I can’t tell you how many times I would hear students say ‘we did that at UCR!’ during the course of a particular lab at RCC,” Herrick said.

Lab work schedule is as follows:

  • Feb. 25: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; lab work will be continuous (lunch break noon to 1 p.m.)
  • March 25: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., poster session presentations

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-2653

Additional Contacts

Jim Burnette, academic coordinator and co-director of the Dynamic Genome program, UCR Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Lab

Alex Cortez, academic coordinator for the Dynamic Genome program

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