An Introductory Science Curriculum for 21st Century Biologists

author: David Botstein, Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics, Princeton University
published: Feb. 4, 2013,   recorded: January 2004,   views: 2434

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How will biology move beyond the Human Genome Project and the task of reducing living things to their genetic sequences? According to David Botstein, the answer lies in “educating the biologist of the 21st century”—someone who will be conversant not just with molecular biology, but with computer science, physics and chemistry. At Princeton’s new Lewis-Sigler Institute, Botstein is spearheading an innovative effort at interdisciplinary undergraduate education. Students will take advantage of state of the art laboratories and computers capable of crunching vast amounts of data generated by actual research. Professors will “provide essential fundamental concepts as required, using the just-in-time-principle”-- no more of the “learn this now, it will be good for you later” approach, which Botstein likens to hazing. Botstein says there is “lots of overhead in teaching historical and traditional origins” so his students will learn instead “with ideas and technologies of today.” He wants to create a new basic language that will enable his biology students to make sense of the fundamental issues of other disciplines.

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