The National Science Foundation invested $1.26 million into research and education in biology and statistics at Dordt College by awarding two grants.

The NSF awarded a grant of $760,000 grant to Dordt College and Hope College for their collaborative project, titled “Collaborative Research: RUI: Investigating microbial metabolic and regulatory diversity by modeling gene activity states inferred from transcriptome data.”

“This grant will help facilitate research and educational outcomes at the intersection of biology and statistics at Dordt College,” says Nathan Tintle, professor of statistics, director for research and scholarship.

Researchers will use statistical methods and high-speed computers to integrate a variety of new types of genetic information gathered on bacteria in order to make predictions about bacterial behavior in the presence of genetic modifications and new environments.

“Interesting computational predictions can be made and tested in the wet-lab, but the process of pre-screening these predictions using statistical and computational methods substantially accelerates the process of discovery and saves a lot of financial resources,” says Tintle. “This project is also an opportunity for at least 17 undergraduates to be involved in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that is helping us understand the world that God has made.

The NSF also awarded Dordt a $500,000 grant for their project, also under the direction of Tintle, titled “RCN-UBE; Statistical Thinking in Undergraduate Biology (STUB) Network: A network for coordinating the teaching and assessment of statistical thinking in introductory biology.”

“The STUB Network is a new group of statisticians and biologists who teach introductory level college courses,” says Tintle. “The goals of the network are to initiate interdisciplinary conversations about goals and outcomes when teaching statistics in introductory biology courses.”

The researchers will run a series of interdisciplinary workshops, co-develop new educational modules, and coordinate assessment of student statistical thinking outcomes in introductory biology courses.