Seeds of Change High School Bioinformatics Research Program, Monteverde Costa Rica, UGA-CR

Immersion Program

Lead Scientist provides background for the day’s research activities

Bioinformatics Research

Seeds of Change seeks to train young bio-science students in comparative microbial bioinformatics to give them a leg up in this burgeoning field. Bioinformatics has emerged as the primary tool used in life science research, yet there has been a “continuing deficiency in this essential expertise…fueling demand for bioinformatics training across all educational levels and career roles” (Attwood, 2017). Seeds of Change aims to fill this need in as many young bio-scientists as possible.

Students study microbial bioinformatics because microbes are central to all environments on the planet, drive biogeochemical cycles, and perform functions vital to all life forms through symbiotic relationships. 

This field will be the driving force behind future bioscience jobs
as more research uncovers the correlations between DNA anomalies, diseases,
life span, plant attributes, and microbial invasions.

Seeds of Change Bioinformatics High School Research Program - Connecting Science Students to Leading Edge Technologies

Blaser et al, 2016

Students learn to use microbial genetics to conduct scientific inquiry
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Sea Turtle Hatchery & Patrols
Seeds of Change Bioinformatics - High School Science Inquiry in Costa Rica
Integral to all Science Fields
SOC Bioinformatics Science Fair Research Poster
Science Fair Ready

Overall Itinerary:

 

Students arrive at Liberia or San Jose airport, have lunch nearby and travel to Monteverde in time for dinner and orientation.

 

They spend 8 days developing and implementing their computational biology (bioinformatics) research projects. Adventure excursions are interspersed throughout the program. They will zipline through the cloud forest canopy, hike the Santa Elena Cloud Forest reserve, explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and learn about coffee production at a local family-run coffee plantation. 

 

Students finish in El Jobo (2 days) on the Pacific coast to participate in a sea turtle workshop and to conduct sea turtle nesting patrols on the beach at night. Students will also kayak through a mangrove estuary and, if conditions are right, learn how to surf.

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Mangrove Kayak
Mangrove Kayak

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Sunset at the beach
Sunset at the beach

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Off-site Adventures:

 

Each day participants get a healthy break from science to do nearby breathtaking activities like: 

  • Hiking to waterfalls, exceptional bird watching and potential sloth and monkey sightings

  • Zip-lining through and above the forest canopy

  • Horseback riding 

  • Local coffee plantation tour

  • Night hike with naturalist

  • Mangrove estuary kayak

  • Sea turtle hatchery

Estacion Biologia
Estacion Biologia

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Hammock Time
Hammock Time

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Eco-lodge room
Eco-lodge room

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Estacion Biologia
Estacion Biologia

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Host Amenities:

 

The Biology Station in Monteverde and an eco-tourism lodge within walking distance to the beach are two campuses SOC uses to house bioinformatics programs. 

 

The campuses provide for all our needs. There are  large classrooms with superb internet (needed for bioinformatics research), laundry service (for a fee), and a large dining area in both locations. The kitchen staff routinely adapt to diet preferences (gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian to name a few) and allergy-related requirements. 

 

Students stay in groups of 3-4 students within earshot of chaperones.

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Registration:

 

Seeds of Change gathers students from one or multiple schools or home-school situations to form a bioinformatics group.