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Information For Interested Students and Parents

Information For Interested Students and Parents:

The WSSP provides students with the opportunity to participate in an authentic research project with the possibility of publishing their results on the international DNA sequence databases for scientists across the world to use.  In the process, students learn the background and methodologies in molecular biology and bioinformatics that are currently being used in modern biotechnology and academic research laboratories.  Previous WSSP students have commented on how this experience has helped them with admission to college and finding research laboratories to work in as undergraduates.

Students can be involved in the WSSP research project in one of three ways:

1. School Participation:

Students can participate in the WSSP research project if their school has made a commitment to conduct the project in either a class or club setting during the academic year.   A teacher from the school must attend a non-residential two-week summer Institute to learn the background and experiments to lead the research project during the academic year.  One student from each school also attends the summer Institute so that they can help their teacher during the academic year.  Other students from the school are able to participate in the research project during the academic year as part of AP Biology, Honors Biology, or research classes, or in after school clubs.   Since the research project requires the use of school resources and the supervision by a teacher, students wishing to attend a summer Institute or participate in the molecular biology laboratory experiments during the year must have the commitments from their school and teacher participation.  Currently, most of the expenses associated with the laboratory component and bioinformatic analysis are supported by the WSSP.  For more information about the summer Institutes and academic year activities and requirements for the students, teachers, and schools please click here

2. Individual Participation:

Students are also able to conduct a portion of the research project without participation of a teacher or commitment from their school. 

a) WISE for High School Students: The Waksman Institute Summer Experience (WISE) for High School Students is a non-residential two week summer Institute for high school students to carry out the WSSP research project.  WISE will be held from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM each day from for several two-week sessions at the Waksman Institute, Rutgers University, Piscataway NJ.  The 2023 research project will focus on the genomic sequence analysis of the duckweed Landoltia punctata, and how the genes in this organism compare to those found in other species. Duckweed is of scientific and commercial interest for bioremediation and as sources of bioenergy. To begin their work, students will learn the background and use the molecular biology laboratory protocols (DNA purification, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), restriction digests, and agarose gel electrophoresis) to isolate and characterize novel DNA fragments from the duckweed. Students will analyze the DNA sequences of these fragments using the same bioinformatic resources (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool: BLAST) that researchers use. Students will compare their sequence data with genes from other eukaryotes to determine the evolutionary relationships of these organisms and the sequence conservation of specific genes. Once they complete the analysis of their sequences, the WSSP staff will review and publish their findings on the DNA sequence databases.  For more information see the WISE web site.

b) virtual Waksman Institute Summer Experience (vWISE): Since many students are at distances too far from the WSSP locations to participate in summer Institutes, the WSSP offers individual students the opportunity to perform the computational bioinformatic analysis of a novel DNA sequence on-line.   Note: No laboratory experiments are conducted in this program. This is intense experience that will meet exclusively on-line Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 10:30 AM and 1:00 to 2:30 PM EDT for two weeks.  Between the on-line seminars conducted by WSSP faculty, students are expected to review the material through online videos and lecture notes, and take a series of quizzes and complete other bioinformatic assignments to support the research investigations.  For more information see the WISE web site.

c) LLNL Biotech Summer ExperienceThe LLNL Biotechnology Summer Experience is a non-residential two-week program associated with the WSSP that is held at the Edward Teller Education Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore CA.  It focuses on the isolation, characterization, and DNA sequence analyzes of genes from the duckweed species, Landoltia punctata.  Students must be a U.S. citizen and 16 years or older by the start of the workshop and have their own transportation to and from the workshop. Applications are competitive and space is limited. For more information see the LLNL Biotech Experience web site.