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This project collaborates with the Virginia Tech Multicultural Academic Opportunites Progam (MAOP) to provide summer research experiences for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds, particularly those from minority serving institutions. The purpose of MAOP is to select, support, and encourage under-represented individuals, regardless of gender or race, to pursue and obtain academic degrees at all levels within a positive environment. This environment is achieved through the mechanism of providing academic, financial, psychological, and sociological support, by involving interns in projects for a ten week period during the summer.

During ten week internships, the undergraduates are mentored by a researcher in the project and learn to plan and conduct research in genomics and bioinformatics. They also attend seminars, participate in field trips, prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and attend a two and a half day exploratory retreat organized by the MAOP program. At the conclusion of the program, the undergraduates present their research to student colleagues, faculty mentors, and visitors. The program is open to undergraduates from around the country. Participants are selected based on their academic achievement, commitment to pursue graduate education and interest in genomics and bioinformatics.

This year (summer 2004) Stephanie McBurrough from Fort Valley State University and Joyce Curry from Hampton University participated in research internships with this project. They were joined by Andrew McKinley from Hampton University and Carmine Leggett from Spelman College who were sponsored by grants from the USDA/NSF Microbial Sequencing Program on "Genome Sequence of Phytophthora sojae".

For information about internship opportunities with this project or with MAOP, please contact Brett Tyler ( or Peni Ratcliffe ( respectively.

Practical Professional Development for Math and Science Educators

VBI Faculty has partnered with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danvile, Virginia to provide a K-14 Inservice Education Program on "Where Science and Math Meet: How Bioinformatics is Changing the Study of Disease, Cells, DNA and More".

Dr. Brett Tyler, Research Professor at VBI provides examples of "How to Bring Bioinformatics Into the Classroom" that are also linked to the Virginia Math and Science Standards Of Learning. Click here for more information

Click on the thumbnails to see enlarged picture.