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Illinois IGB

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Community Education

Where Science Meets Society

The IGB embraces the concept of "Where Science Meets Society," and hosts events intended to raise the awareness of the transformative research taking place at the Institute, and also to facilitate the interaction between IGB members and the greater community.

Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)


Available via our partnership with Coursera, the IGB's Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Genomics: Decoding the Universal Language of Life” is a beginner level course which contains 6 weeks of study and encompasses topics drawn from the IGB’s expansive research portfolio such as how genes work, why microbes play such an important role chemically, how DNA sequencing can be used to predict risk to health and wellness, and what differences exist in genetically modified plants.

IGB Director and Swanlund Professor of Entomology Gene Robinson is the main instructor for this course. In addition, each module features several guest instructors. These guest instructors come from diverse fields of study—biology, physics, computer science, and many others—and pursue diverse research goals, yet they share a common interest in genomic approaches and technologies.

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Genome Day

Genome Day is an opportunity to educate the community about genomes, genes, DNA, and evolution, held each year at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign. Although primarily for children of grade-school age, all members of the community were welcomed to attend this free event. Exhibits and activities are designed to present energy use and production, environmental, health, and other fundamental research at the IGB in an approachable manner for all ages. In recent years, members of the UIUC chapter of SACNAS (Society Devoted to Advancing Hispanics, Chicanos & Native Americans in Science) have provided bilingual support for the activities.

Our most recent Genome Day took place on November 14, 2015! Admission to the event and museum was free, with activities running continuously in an open house format. Watch our video from the event here.

The Art of Science: Images from the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Showcasing imagery from the Core Facilities at the IGB, the Art of Science traveling art exhibit highlights cutting-edge research that is addressing significant problems in the environment, medicine, energy use and production, and fundamental research. These exhibitions exemplify the IGB’s commitment to scientific discovery and the collaborative spirit that makes it all possible.

Co-sponsored by the IGB and BodyWork Associates, more than 250 community members, students, faculty, and staff regularly attend to enjoy the art produced from the melding of progressive scientific ideas with innovative state-of-the-art methods of conducting research.

The 6.0 exhibit will open Thursday, April 28, 2016 at Gallery 217 (formerly indi go gallery). View images from the 1.0 exhibit, 2.0 exhibit, 3.0 exhibit, 4.0 exhibit, and 5.0 exhibit. Learn more about the state-of-the-art resources for biological microscopy and image analysis found in IGB Core Facilities.

Genomics for Judges

The Supreme Court of Illinois and its Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, in coordination with members of the Illinois Judicial Conference Committee on Education, appointed by the Supreme Court, are responsible for facilitating educational resources for Illinois judges, including those pertaining to sciences in the law. The IGB, working with the AOIC, offers a seminar “Genomics for™ Judges” designed to prepare judges to grapple with legal questions involving DNA sequencing and analysis, as well as related technologies, in the courts today and in the future.

Forty-eight judges and justices from around Illinois were immersed in a rich scientific experience that included the structure and function of DNA, how gene function is influenced by the environment, and how genome sequences are analyzed. The success of the Genomics for™ Judges program has already prompted plans to address the need for genomics education by offering the seminar on a regular basis. Read our full article here.

Illinois Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Illinois Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is part of a national network that recognizes learning has no age limits. The IGB faculty have participated in instruction of several successful OLLI courses.  Several OLLI members have volunteered as research scientists in IGB laboratories. This "Citizen Scientist" program was a key factor in the decision by the Osher Foundation to award OLLI at Illinois a second $1M gift.

Listen to OLLI leaders, including IGB Director Gene Robinson, in our OLLI video feature, and download our brochure here.

Genomics for Teachers

Science teachers are tasked with inspiring and educating the next generation of researchers.  To do so, they need access to curricula that reflect current scientific understanding and training to expand their own knowledge; this is especially important for topics such as genomic biology, in which the boundaries of knowledge are advancing rapidly.  Project NEURON, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign curriculum development group, partnered with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology to offer a new course, Genomics for™ Teachers, addressing these teacher professional development needs.

Attendees of the Genomics for™ Teachers workshop engaged in and critiqued hands-on curriculum activities related to genomics, explored and discussed the recently published Next Generation Science Standards, heard presentations from University of Illinois faculty on the societal impacts of genomic biology, and received guidance and peer feedback on independent curriculum development projects.

Project NEURON, which is funded by an NIH Science Education Partnership Award, combines the expertise of scientists and education researchers to produce cutting-edge biology curriculum materials and to provide continuing education opportunities for teachers. Learn more about the program and access workshop materials here.

Chambana Science Cafe

The Chambana Science Cafe is a collaboration between the IGB and the Beckman Institute for Adcanced Science and Technology. Science Cafes are events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic. The first Wednesday of most months, researchers present their work to the public and answer questions in an informal, all-ages setting. Past topics have included food and fermentation, how exercise effects the brain, and the relationship between perspective and conversation.