Williams College has announced that it has been awarded a $145,924 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project "Acquisition of DNA Analysis Instrumentation for Research and Education," under the direction of Jason A. Wilder, assistant professor of biology.
Wilder, whose work looks to understand the forces that shape patterns of genetic variability in nature, received his B.A. from Williams in 1997 and his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University in 2002. He did his postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona.
The project will establish a laboratory at Williams for the collection of DNA sequence and genotype data.
The lab will include a capillary-based DNA analyzer, equipment for template amplification and purification, and computer workstations equipped with software for data analysis.
The technology will be of particular support to the research of biology professors Jason Wilder, Lara Hutson, David C. Smith, and Robert Savage.
Wilder is currently studying human DNA variants that confer resistance to severe malarial parasitism.
Hutson's laboratory is working to characterize the role of heat shock proteins in the neural development of zebrafish.
In a study of natural selection, Smith uses genetic markers to individually identify tadpoles.
Savage is looking to understand the function of Hox gene regulators in basic pattern formation in living creatures.
The lab also will assume an essential position in the science curriculum at Williams.
Use of the technology will be essential to the bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics program, and important in the evolutionary biology course.
Additionally, the lab will be incorporated into the curriculum of introductory biology –one of the most popular classes at Williams.
Wilder, the director of the program, said, "With this equipment, we'll be able to incorporate acquisition of DNA data directly into the curriculum at Williams, and include these data more efficiently in faculty research."
"These are the kinds of data that are currently revolutionizing most aspects of the life sciences."