Genomics Analysis Students Collaborate on Second Published Article

This fall, Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon is teaching Principles of Biology (MB&B181) and Cell and Development Journal Club (BIOL505).

Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon and 26 Wesleyan students are coauthors of a recent paper published in G3.

The second publication by students in Genomics Analysis (BIOL 310) has been accepted by the well-known journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. This adds 26 Wesleyan students to the ranks of more than 40 students who have become published authors through the course’s research on Drosophila sechellia, a type of fruit fly evolved to eat a plant that is toxic to most insects.

The recent paper, “Genomics Analysis of L-DOPA Exposure in Drosophila sechellia,” is coauthored by all 20 students in Assistant Professor of Biology Joseph Coolon’s class, and six students in his lab.

“I created my Genomics Analysis course as a way to provide more students with a course-based research experience where students participate in scientific discovery and the generation of new knowledge, and don’t just consume knowledge generated by others,” said Coolon. “This means each year the students taking the course learn material generated and published by the previous iterations of the course.”

Students collaborated at each step of data generation, analysis, interpretation, and manuscript writing. They built on research conducted by previous students, and their third such publication is about to be submitted to G3 for consideration. Coolon’s goal to create a course that culminates in publication is proving sustainable.

Authors included undergraduates Stephen Lanno, Ivy Lam, Zachary Drum, Samuel Linde, Sara Gregory, Serena Shimshak, Mariel Becker, Kerry Brew, Aashli Budhiraja, Eliza Carter, Lorencia Chigweshe, Keagan Collins, Timothy Earley, Hannah Einstein, Angela Fan, Sarah Goss, Eric Hagen, Sarah Hutcheon, Timothy Kim, Mackenzie Mitchell, Nola Neri, Sean Patterson, Gregory Ransom, Guadalupe Sanchez, Bella Weiner, and Dacheng Zhan.

Mackenzie Mitchell ’20, a double major in MB&B and SISP, said, “I really enjoyed getting to work in groups throughout the data analysis process. I think the collaboration on this research is indicative of what it takes to become published: working in a team. It is was fun to see the incredibly diverse analysis from the same sets of data.”

Coolon was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant this month that will support the work carried out by students in the Genomics Analysis course.