My personal and professional adventure into Science

My debut as an external censor

About a month ago I was contacted by Michael Poulsen from Copenhagen University, asking if I wanted to help as external censor at his course Genomic Approaches for Non-Model Organisms. First of all I was surprised that he still remembered me as it was two years ago he gave a talk at CBS about Termite Gut Metagenomes, very interesting talk. I thought the idea sounded fun as I have never tried that before, so of course I said yes. I have been internal censor before at our own courses, and I have had many of my own students for exam, but the external part was new to me.

The exam idea in the course is very interesting, as the students have to pick a topic and prepare a grant proposal with abstract, project description, timeplan and budget. They have a limited space of three pages for the project description, so they really have to think about what they write. For the exam itself, the student give a pitch for 5-6 minutes about the grant proposal and then there is about 20 minutes of digging into the proposal and ask questions in everything they learned in the course.

I think the exams went pretty well, it was a nice début and I am looking forward for the next time as I also learned a lot of new things during the exam. One other bonus is also, that I got in contact with Michael again and we talked about keeping in touch regarding future collaborations 🙂

If you are interested in the course, you can find a description of it here.

Content
The specific goal of this course is to give students a thorough introduction to the types and applications of the different genomic tools available, including understanding their limitations. We will introduce students to the concepts of genomic, metagenomic, and transcriptomic data acquisition and analyses, primarily during lectures and seminars, but supplemented with some computer exercises. In addition, the course will bring in guest lectures, who are specialists in their field and who use genomic tools to answer questions that are primarily driven by ecology, organisma, or evolutionary biology. In the theoretical seminars the students will present, discuss, and critically evaluate studies from the literature that incorporate genomic data to address questions in ecology, behaviour and evolutionary biology.
Learning Outcome
The increasing availability of genome data for non-model organisms creates new opportunities for research in ecology, behaviour and evolutionary biology. Such studies were previously restricted to sequencing single genes for phylogenetic reconstructions and to the use of neutral genetic markers for estimating genetic structure of populations. However, the application of second-generation genome sequencing technology means that non-model organisms will increasingly have sequenced genomes, allowing research that addresses the genetics of adaptations at unprecedented levels of detail. This will not only apply to individual study organisms, but also the communities of microbes that have important ecological functions and coevolutionary relationships with multicellular host organisms.
This course will identify and discuss the main applications of genomic data in ecology, behaviour and evolutionary biology, including various ways to identify single genes, genome annotation, pathway reconstruction, population genomics as natural extension of population genetics, community metagenomics, and the use of genomic data for the study of disease and symbiosis. By the end of the course, students will be able to critically evaluate the use and choice of genomic methods for hypothesis testing in biology.
The course is directed at biology students who want to become familiar with the use of genomic data for hypothesis development and testing, and for bioinformatics and biochemistry students with an interest in applying their skills outside classic model systems for which genomes were already sequenced many years ago.

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