Author(s): Ellington R, Wachira J, Nkwanta A
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Abstract The focus of this Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) project was on RNA secondary structure prediction by using a lattice walk approach. The lattice walk approach is a combinatorial and computational biology method used to enumerate possible secondary structures and predict RNA secondary structure from RNA sequences. The method uses discrete mathematical techniques and identifies specified base pairs as parameters. The goal of the REU was to introduce upper-level undergraduate students to the principles and challenges of interdisciplinary research in molecular biology and discrete mathematics. At the beginning of the project, students from the biology and mathematics departments of a mid-sized university received instruction on the role of secondary structure in the function of eukaryotic RNAs and RNA viruses, RNA related to combinatorics, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information resources. The student research projects focused on RNA secondary structure prediction on a regulatory region of the yellow fever virus RNA genome and on an untranslated region of an mRNA of a gene associated with the neurological disorder epilepsy. At the end of the project, the REU students gave poster and oral presentations, and they submitted written final project reports to the program director. The outcome of the REU was that the students gained transferable knowledge and skills in bioinformatics and an awareness of the applications of discrete mathematics to biological research problems.
This article was published in CBE Life Sci Educ
and referenced in Journal of Generalized Lie Theory and Applications