The Genome, Environment and Microbiome Community of Excellence (GEM) at the University at Buffalo is focused on the integration of research, education and engagement.

This conference is supported by a GEM Educational & Engagement Innovation Grant.

Dr. Stephen Koury holds a PhD in Anatomical Sciences and he completed post-doctoral work in hematology. He has approximately 20 years teaching at UB in areas including molecular diagnostics, human medical genetics, applications of biomolecular technology and introduction to microbial genome annotation. Dr. Koury has been using GENI-ACT (Genome Education National Initiative Annotation Collaboration Toolkit), an online bioinformatics toolkit and its precursor known as IMG-ACT, since 2010 with high school teachers and students, as well as undergraduates and graduate students at the University at Buffalo. He was invited to be an MGAN (Microbial Genome Annotators Network) Regional GENI-ACT Workshop Facilitator in 2012 and has taken part in a number of workshops around the nation to train faculty in the use of GENI-ACT. From 2013-17, Dr. Koury was the PI on an Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) grant from the National Science Foundation called The Western New York Genetics in Research Partnership. The goals of the project were to: 1) allow high school students and teachers to participate in scientific research, 2) stimulate the interest of students in pursuing careers in science and technology through the use of a unique, interactive learning environment combined with intensive support intervention and 3) encourage teachers to include bioinformatics and genomics in their curriculum. Currently, Dr. Koury is the co-PI on a five-year Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health which serves as a pipeline for teacher and student recruitment, training and mentorship in bioscience, with a particular focus on genetics. The program is designed to support career paths for students in both scientific research and the health professions, emphasizing assistance to those from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, as well as to familiarize teachers with basic bioinformatics concepts that they can introduce into their classrooms.  Dr. Koury’s faculty profile:

Jennifer A. Surtees holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and is the Co-director of the Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence and she is an Associate Professor at UB within the Dept. of Biochemistry. Dr. Surtees assists GEM with the advancement of genome science by facilitating participation from the arts, humanities, social sciences and education along with the sciences in order to bring diverse perspectives to revolutionize the emerging field of personalized medicine. Dr. Surtees’ faculty profile:

Rama Dey-Rao holds a PhD in Cell Biology/Botany and is a scientist and faculty member of the University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Dey-Rao has done extensive work in systems biology based research and contributes to the SEPA Project by assisting in the GENI-ACT training of teachers. Dr. Dey-Rao’s profile:

Sandra Small has a PhD in Biochemistry and is the Integrated Science Education Manager for University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Dr. Small is certified to teach Secondary Education Biology in NYS and she specializes in Science Education, Molecular Cloning, Electromobility Shift Assays, Pull-Down Assays, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, Quantitative Real-time PCR, and Western Blotting. Dr. Small’s profile:

Lon Knappenberger has been teaching at Westfield Academy located in Chautauqua County for the past 21 years. Mr. Knappenberger is a multi-faceted science instructor at Westfield, teaching multiple classes, including: all science A courses; 12th-grade anatomy; 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade zoology; 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade bio-technology techniques; and animal behavior via distance learning. His interests include genomics, forensic anthropology, environmental enrichment and psychological well- being of captive nonhuman primates. Mr. Knappenberger developed an entirely new biotechnology class at his school based on his pilot participation and further collaboration with Dr. Koury.

Shannon Carlin-Menter holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and is the Director of Evaluation for the NYS Area Health Education Center System. She is a Co-Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) titled The Western New York Genetics in Research and Health Care Partnership, which focuses on underserved and minority students in grades 9 – 12 within the Western New York area including Buffalo. The grant is developing an ongoing partnership with disadvantaged schools across a 14-county region that serves as a pipeline for teacher and student recruitment into genomics/bioinformatics, as well as training and mentorship in bioscience.