Integration of Bioinformatics into an Undergraduate Biology Curriculum


  A National Science Foundation-funded educational program at Muhlenberg College.



Project directed by:

Professor Bruce Wightman (Biology)

  1. Associate Professor Amy Hark (Biology/Biochemistry)
  2. Associate Professor Clif Kussmaul (Computer Science)
  3. Assistant Professor Keri Colabroy (Chemistry/Biochemistry)
  4. Associate Professor Marten Edwards (Biology)

This educational research project seeks to enhance undergraduate education in biology by systematically integrating bioinformatics instruction into multiple biology and biochemistry courses at three levels: introductory, intermediate, and advanced.

There are two major educational goals: 1) to improve undergraduate sophistication about bioinformatics, and 2) to increase the mathematical content in the biology and biochemistry curricula. The project is being executed by faculty from the Muhlenberg College Departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics and Computer Science and serve approximately 200 biology, biochemistry and neuroscience majors each year.

One introductory biology course, three intermediate level biology lab courses, and three advanced courses in biology and biochemistry have had new bioinformatics components introduced or existing components expanded upon.

Laboratory curricula feature multiple-week investigative experiences that build on existing experimental schemes. The curricular goals are supported by a new genomics and proteomics core laboratory facility that features real-time PCR and 2-D gel electrophoresis.

In addition, multiple laptop computers allow all students in introductory and upper-level courses to have their own computer in smaller discussion sections and laboratories. The new computers allow instructors to explore computational applications, and the underlying mathematics, more effectively in the classroom.

Faculty development, in the form of a one-time week-long on-site bioinformatics course, supported the curricular goals, inspiring more extensive use of the new technology, and encouraged collaboration among biologists, biochemists, and computational scientists.

The new facility, increased faculty expertise, and potential faculty collaboration also support undergraduate research programs. The value of bioinformatics as a tool for improving quantitative instruction and the specific instructional schemes themselves will be assessed through student surveys. Project materials and assessment tools can be downloaded as pdf files by following the links below.


Project Description

Bioinformatics Central Portal at Trexler Library

Bioinformatics Assignments for Introductory Biology


Project Assessment Tools:

Survey for Assessment of Bioinformatics Learning

Bioinformatics Senior Survey

BioInformatics Central Assessment Survey

BIO 215 Genetics Course Evaluation


Links to Related Resources:

Pirelli Animation at GCAT

DeRisi et al. Microarray Data at GCAT