An award is made to Montclair State University (MSU) to purchase a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platform (Illumina MiSeq) to expand and update the shared-use genomic infrastructure of MSU, Seton Hall University, Passaic County Community College, and Bergen Community College. NGS technologies have revolutionized the biological sciences and until now have, for the most part, been sheltered from undergraduate research and teaching institutions. Acquisition of the MiSeq will immediately improve the teaching infrastructure of all involved institutions. The MiSeq system will in effect impact ethnically diverse students both in the classroom and in field/laboratory -based research programs. The student body at MSU is growing at an astonishingly fast rate (9%/year). With this increase in student body size, the number of MSU research faculty is likewise increasing. The MiSeq will be incorporated into well-established biology classes and ultimately a new NGS elective class will be formulated targeting undergraduates early on in their careers. These classes will effectively train students in laboratory-based research projects where they will learn experimental design, effective use of NGS, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of the DNA data sets in scientific paper format. These classes will have the added benefit of training students wishing to enter into the biotechnology workforce further strengthening the economy. The NGS certification workshops will help advance the careers of participants or give attendees an advantage when applying for jobs in biotechnology or even graduate school. The annual NGS public talks will help to educate the community at large in regards to what is possible in the age of NGS hopefully inspiring the next generation of future scientists. Upcoming scientists in surrounding high schools will also gain inspiration through the Weston Scholars Program (high school student science mentoring).The MiSeq will support the ever-expanding DNA based research projects being investigated by the faculty, students, and collaborators at all involved institutions. These projects are both multi/inter-disciplinary covering various sub-disciplines within biology, medicine, chemistry, and ecology. In the immediate future, these projects include: 1) Examine the evolutionary loss of functional teeth genes across vertebrate animals; 2) Determine the diet of gelatinous animals such as jellyfish; 3) Identify jellyfish venom genes with potential applications to the treatment of human ailments; 4) Further investigate gene regulation in maize (corn), an agriculturally important crop; 5) Investigate the genetic variation and uniqueness among wildlife pathogens implicated in amphibian declines and mass mortality events worldwide; 6) Characterize the biodiversity of microbes in multiple soil types (e.g. organic soils, contaminated soils); 7) Characterize macroinvertebrate biodiversity in New Jersey streams; 8) Characterize the microorganisms making up harmful algal blooms in order to better manage these blooms and protect drinking and recreational waters; 9) Further explore causative agents of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms by looking at the metal stress response; 10) Further develop parallel computing software to generate phylogenetic trees; 11) Identify molecular changes that could be targeted for treatment when the parasite responsible for lymphatic filarialsis (elephantiasis) undergoes stress.
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