Download our new DNA Barcoding Curriculum
Belize is a Biodiversity hotspot and efforts are still needed to catalogue new species, monitor invasive species, identify genetic consequences of urbanization, and monitor the effects of environmental degradation. BioBelize will give students hands on experience in cataloguing plants and animals in Belizean ecosystems, the opportunity to set up a new zoological collection for future studies, and the ability to directly contribute data they collect to the international scientific community. Through lectures and field trips, students will explore forests and beaches around the Stann Creek district in order to investigate the complexity of life around the urban center of Dangriga, Belize.
BioBelize hopes to provide students with an understanding of:
I am currently working at the High School for Environmental Studies, a NYC public high school, with the NSF GK-12 program. My main goal is to integrate graduate research with high school science classrooms, and introduce the importance of urban ecology to the NYC community. I work with several teachers at the school, and we recently received a Toyota Tapestry Grant to build a molecular biology lab at the high school. With the grant money I have developed a course, Molecular NYC, where students will research, design and implement a DNA barcoding project to identify and catalog the biodiversity of New York City. DNA barcoding is a great way of identifying animals and plants based on small fragments of DNA. Students will work in small groups to identify a plant or invertebrate species of interest. They will collect samples from all over New York City, extract the DNA from their samples, develop protocols to amplify the specific barcode region for their organism, send samples out for sequencing, perform comparative analysis using bioinformatics tools, and build a website to publicize their work. Throughout this process, students will develop a range of skills from traditional morphology identification to advanced molecular techniques while documenting biodiversity and answering ecological questions in their city.
Please visit the urban barcode project's website for more information on DNA barcoding
Visit our class website to learn more about the projects we are currently working on involving urban biodiversity
If you, or anyone you know, are working on species in NYC and would like some DNA extraction and PCR work done, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stephen E Harris
CUNY - The Graduate Center
Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior