The Waksman Student Scholars Program is designed help high school students learn modern molecular genetics by having them engage in genuine scientific research projects. It is a two-part program aimed at both teachers and students.

The research project for the 2011/2012 year focuses on the genomic sequence analysis of the Duckweed Wolffia australiana, and how the genes in this organism compare to other species.

Students in the project will isolate and sequence genes from Wolffia australiana. The sequences of these genes has never been determined before and this information will be deposited in the international sequence databases for the students and other scientists to use. Students in the program will compare these sequences with genes from other eukaryotes to determine the evolutionary relationship of these organisms and the sequence conservation of specific genes.

In the course of these studies, students, teachers, and research scientists work together, using the basic principles of molecular biology and genetic engineering to try to solve this research problem. By actually doing science, teachers and students gain an understanding of how science operates. A video overview of the WSSP and the research project can be found here

The Summer Institutes
A teacher and two students from 30 high schools commute to the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ daily for one of two three-week sessions in July and August. A second two-week Summer Institute will be held at the University of Texas, Austin. Another summer Institute will be held for 10 high schools and two weeks at Johns Hopkins University for teachers and students in the Baltimore, MD/Washington, D.C area. At each summer Institute students and teachers learn about a research project in molecular biology. Both the background material and the laboratory skills necessary to carry out the project are presented.

The Academic Year
Teachers and students return to their classrooms in Septemb
er and begin working on the research project. Additional students will be recruited. Some students can earn Rutgers University credit by participating in a formal course. Some schools offer a research course for high school credit; others offer the research as an after-school activity. The students return to Rutgers or Johns Hopkins for meetings during the academic year. At the end of the year, in June, a forum is held where students present the results of their studies at a poster session.

Amino Acid Game (For student competition)
Click here to participate in the amino acid game.

My Name is Charles Darwin
Click here to participate in the MYNAMEISCHARLESDARWIN game.

Dot Plotter
Click here to use Dot Plotter to analyze your sequences.

Tutorials (Only the first tutorial is up to date. The rest will soon be modified to reflect the current research project)
Click here to access the first HiGene Tutorial. Students and teachers should examine the tutorial with an eye toward improving its clarity, interest, and accuracy.

Click here to access the second HiGene Tutorial.

Click here to access the third HiGene Tutorial.

Click here to access the fourth HiGene Tutorial.

Click here to access the fifth HiGene Tutorial.