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faculty q&a

Professor Profile: Dr. Edison R. Fowlks Awarded $425,000 Genomics Grant

Jason Moore, Brittany
						  Henry and Edwin Jones in Hollywood, Calif. this summer enjoying some of
						  the perks of being in the FDL program

As a long-time professor of biology at Hampton University, Dr. Edison R. Fowlks has been hard at work recently. Serving as the project lead, he has worked to obtain a $425,000 grant for HU from the W. M. Keck Foundation to bring the study of genomics and bioinformatics into the classroom and laboratory. The grant-funded project is titled “HU DNA-Microarray Wet and Dry Labs for Undergraduate Research and Training.”  We asked Fowlks to tell us about the new grant and also share a little more about himself.

Q. How will this grant assist students?

A. Through this grant, undergraduate students will learn to blend biology with computer science and mathematics in an inquiry-based teaching environment. Students will learn that organisms are dynamic systems that can be studied using engineering principles.

Q. What changes can students expect due to this grant?

A. It will allow for faculty and course development and the creation of a DNA-microarray wet-lab and a bioinformatics dry-lab.

Q. What is genomics?

A. Genomics is the science in which biology, computer science and information technology converge into a single discipline to study genes and their function. This new field is changing the way that biology and medicine is taught, focusing on reading and interpreting the genetic information encoded in the genomes of cells or organisms.

Q. Why is it beneficial for our students to study genomics?

A. As we enter into the age of personalized medicine, genomics is going to touch all facets of our lives. And now with the help of the Keck Foundation, our students are going to be able to take a front row seat, enabling them to enter programs in this field as graduate students and to participate in the future of genomics.

Q. What was your favorite course in college?

A. Graduate genetics.

Q. What are some of your hobbies?

A. Gardening, jogging (but now walking) and fishing.

Q. What is your favorite restaurant?

A. Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, Calif.

Q. What has been a favorite experience of yours as a professor?

A. Encouraging an English major to pursue medicine. She is now a respected physician in Texas.

-Alison L. Phillips