Advances in genomics are rapidly increasing our understanding of not only the human body, disease and health-related issues but how humans and other species interact and respond to changing environments. Genomics represents a scientific frontier that connects with individuals and families at the most personal level, with the potential to shape the future of human healthcare. We aim to increase public awareness and knowledge of the advances in genomics and their implications for personalized healthcare.
The Genome Ambassador Program
The Genome Ambassadors Program is designed to establish training in research and outreach activities in Public Genomic Literacy, engage students in learning basic principles and best practices in communication with the general public, and facilitate interactive activities among community members.
We welcome Graduate and Undergraduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Faculty and Staff interested in joining the ISG Mission to promote Public Genomic Literacy and to increase diversity within genomic education and careers. Participants may be asked to design and execute group presentations to local schools and provide tours of the ISG facilities. Our Genome Ambassadors are passionate about getting people interested and educated in genomics and personalized healthcare! We hope you will join us!
The Center for Genome Innovation (CGI) is home to some of the most state of the art genomics technologies. Visitors will be able to see our laboratory teaching space, sample processing labs and sequencing instrumentation. Visitors will also be given an overview of training opportunities, sample processing services and information on hands-on workshops in Next Generation Sequencing technology! Exploring a core sequencing facility like the CGI is the best way to see genomics in action!
Tours are available throughout the year for all faculty, staff and students, prospective students, and faculty candidates. Class tours are also available for small groups (less than 10 individuals works best). Tours are also available to local students, educators, and other working professionals.
Or, we'll come to you!
Our Genome Ambassadors are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists. We're happy to come to you with engaging presentations and hands-on activities.
A program over two decades in the making:
The Center for Genome Innovation at the University of Connecticut was established in the early 2000’s as the Center for Applied Genetics and Technology under the direction of Dr. Linda Strausbaugh. The CGI is the nucleating unit for modern genomics-based research at UConn, with a mission to create and sustain an environment that enables University and internationally recognized research and education in genomics-based fields. As an innovative educator, Dr. Strausbaugh envisioned a program that would engage members of the public, across all ages, in discovery-driven science as well as introduce the myriad ways genetics and genomics discoveries impact our daily lives.
In 2010, the CAGT initiated sponsorship of a group of its graduate students in the formation of the “Science Ambassadors” who were dedicated to improving scientific knowledge of the public, from school children to senior citizens. In the fall of 2012, the CAGT partnered with members of the Jackson Laboratory’s newly formed Institute for Personalized Genome Medicine, the University of Connecticut Health Center, and 10 colleges at the Storrs campus of UConn to establish the Institute for Systems Genomics (ISG). Within the ISG, the Ambassadors program grew into the “Genome Ambassadors” Program, with the goal to synergize the training of the next generation of genomicists in both pedagogical scientific enterprises and in public outreach and engagement.
As part of this work, Genome Ambassadors Summer Fellowship program for graduate students was supported by funding through the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Science & Civic Engagement (Dr. Rachel O’Neill, ISG, and Dr. Hank Gruner, Connecticut Science Center) 2013-2016 to offer training in research and outreach activities in Genomic Literacy. Codifying and expanding this program will serve as a model for leveraging the assets of university research institutions and informal science education organizations to address STEM-related issues of public importance and develop skills for effective public engagement and dialog amongst future scientists. In collaboration with the Connecticut Science Center, the Summer Teen Innovation Program in Genomics was designed to allow teens interested in STEM careers to experience “life as a scientist” by developing educational programs, technological applications, and exhibits to share with visitors.