Lincoln University professors awarded two National Science Foundation grants totaling more than $575,000

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LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. — Two Lincoln University chemistry professors have been awarded two National Science Foundation grants totaling $579,846.

An Innovative Approach to Bioinformatics Education

For the first grant of $400,000, principal investigator Whelton A. Miller and co-principal investigator Carla Gallagher — both assistant professors in the Department of Chemistry and Physics proposed an innovative approach in bioinformatics education and research. Bioinformatics is the combination of computer science, mathematics, and information technology with the intent of collecting, organizing, and processing large volumes of biological and chemical data. ​​

Students participating in the grant research include Chioma Orizu (left), a junior biology major from Amuwo Odofin, Nigeria; Cedar Davidson (center), a junior biology major from Richmond Hill, Canada; and Josephine Nimely, a junior biology major from Nottingham, Maryland. (Courtesy Photo)

Students will be trained in this growing field while working side-by-side with faculty on key cross-disciplinary concepts from the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics, which will have implications in genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics researchStudents will be trained to master several scripting and programming languages, which will serve as guidelines for bioinformatics curriculum development.

The project, titled "Targeted Infusion Project: Lincoln University Bioinformatics Program (LUBi),” aims to not only address the issue of underrepresentation of minority students in bioinformatics, but also to create an innovative well-rounded education and research program that is well suited for faculty and student research.

Expanding Bioinformatics Partnerships

In 2018, Miller and Gallagher were awarded a $149,996 National Science Foundation planning grant to explore development of a bioinformatics program at Lincoln University. This year they were awarded supplemental funding in the amount of $29,850 to support summer research for Lincoln University professors and students at​ Loyola University Chicago in conjunction with Los Alamos National Laboratory. Miller and Gallagher will explore partnerships for a joint BS/MS program with institutions such as Loyola University Chicago and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The grant will also explore future faculty collaboration and development of Lincoln's bioinformatics/computational science programs.

Undergraduate students working on the grant include Cedar Davidson, a junior biology major from Richmond Hill, Canada; Josephine Nimely, a junior biology major from Nottingham, Maryland; and Chioma Orizu, a junior biology major from Amuwo Odofin, Nigeria. These students have accompanied Miller to Chicago to complete the first collaborative 10-week internship between Lincoln and Loyola University Chicago.

Dr. Whelton Miller (left) and Dr. Carla Gallagher (Courtesy Photos)

As part of the grant proposal, Miller and Gallagher wrote, “It is well known that [Los Alamos National Laboratory] is a leader in theoretical/computational science. And, Loyola also has established [Bachelor of Science] and [Master of Science] bioinformatics programs, allowing for additional curriculum exploration of a BS/MS program at Lincoln via partnerships.”

Article by Shelley Mix, Office of Communications & Public Relations

Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), educates and empowers students to lead their communities and change the world. Lincoln offers a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse student body of approximately 2,200 men and women in more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs.