A grant from the Vladimir Potanin Foundation will allow Altai State University to increase the number of specialists proficient in computer technologies in biology

20 February 2024 Department of Information and Media Communication

Alexey Vaganov, a leading researcher at the South Siberian Botanical Garden, an associate professor of the Department of Botany at the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University, received a grant support from the Vladimir Potanin Foundation. The funding will be used to revamp the online course “Computer Technologies in Biology”, purchase essential equipment, develop new instructional materials, promote the course and organize a national competition.

In the current academic year, the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, in a grant competition for master's degree teachers, instead of the traditional four nominations, announced only one, but global – a redesign of disciplines, educational technologies and educational programs across 75 leading universities nationwide.

“My project “Computer Technologies in Biology” (an online course hosted on the national educational platform Stepik) has gained popularity in recent years, attracting over 4,000 unique users, and has developed a wide network of partners dedicated to exploring biodiversity of the Altai highlands. In 2024, as part of the project, a national competition will be organized for seeking the best solutions in the field of application of computer technologies in biology (analysis, storage and transmission of biodata, digitalization and bioresource collections, mathematical modeling, computer vision, etc.). The competition will focus on the tightly-knit community of the VKontakte course participants. In addition, many changes are planned: updating the course content, new practical guides, continuing to introduce full presence technology in laboratory and natural settings, and joint tasks to develop Russian-language courses under the satellite project “BioDATA Advanced” with the University of Oslo (Norway),” noted Alexey Vaganov.

The course “Computer Technologies in Biology” targets the development of competencies in using modern computer technologies and information achievements in relation to the processing, transmission and storage of biological data.

The curriculum is aimed at a broad spectrum of professionals, including biologists, ecologists, geographers, paleontologists, applied mathematicians, naturalists – researchers who directly or indirectly deal with living objects. The skills acquired during the course can be used to design a scientific project, thesis, dissertation research and scientific article.

The course covers practical tools for working with biological data: storage and processing of biodata; mobilization and normalization of biodata; DNA sequence analysis and storage in gene banks; geographic information systems (GIS) and geographic zoning; phylogeny and reconstruction of taxonomic relationships, evolutionary analysis; digitization of biological collections and maintenance of digital depositories; modeling of predicted habitats of living objects; practice of preparing presentation materials.

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