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Elizabeth Alter

Assistant Professor

Biology, York College
Bridge to Research in Environmental and Applied Metagenomics (BREAM)

Professor Alter uses genomic s to investigate marine biodiversity in Jamaica Bay, an important urban estuary in NYC. Her three-year, $245K NSF project, Bridge to Research in Environmental and Applied Metagenomics (BREAM), endeavors to broaden the participation of students traditionally underrepresented in environmental and biological sciences. BREAM introduces first and second year college students to the science of ecosystem restoration and resilience in Jamaica Bay. Using cutting edge metagenomics, BREAM students study the DNA extracted from the environment, survey biodiversity and biodiversity patterns, explore microbial communities living in the ecosystem, and determine whether those microbial communities contribute to the health of the ecosystem. Students benefit by learning how to use the fundamental tools of science, being introduced to the concept of Big Data, and gaining knowledge of the issues facing a local ecosystem. “We believe that by exposing students early on to the tools they need to manage Big Data, we will retain those students in STEM fields.”

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