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DNA Barcoding from NYC to Belize

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1462-1463
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230006


Traditional means of studying biodiversity depend on expert knowledge from individuals with years of education and training. Recent techniques like DNA barcoding, the process of identifying species based on short fragments of DNA, can be used to quickly identify species and to provide easy access to taxonomic information, a particular benefit to both students and developing nations (1). We use DNA barcoding as the foundation for introducing students to modern biological research. Initially, we set out to develop a research course that serves as an alternative to more traditional laboratories, which often have known outcomes and lack student-generated investigations. Our goal was to provide an experience and skill set to students that would drive interest in the sciences and prepare them for the rigors of studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Although we are in the age of genomics, too often the practical knowledge and necessary skills to succeed in science are not taught to students at the high school or even undergraduate level.

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