This U.S.-Mexico award provides funding for U.S. participation in a workshop on evolutionary genomics of non-model species, to take place in Irapuato, Mexico in July 2011. The workshop will be held in conjunction with a larger event, the annual meeting of the American Genetic Association. This award will enable 20 US graduate students and four faculty to attend the workshop, and approximately 20 Mexican graduate students will join them at this workshop. The goal of the workshop is to inform students of recent protocols in next-generation sequencing in population genomics and phylogenomics, and to promote future collaborations between US and Mexican graduate students and early-stage faculty. The focus will be on the application of phylogeographic and phylogenomic methods to non-model organisms, that is, moving beyond lab-model species. The workshop will also consider the pros and cons of the different methods of next-generation sequencing, depending on the type of question and project that they are applied to.

The focus of this workshop on non-model organisms is critical, considering the current world-wide loss of biodiversity. This workshop will also help train current graduate students in the use of next-generation sequencing methods, for which there is a great need. Student participants will be recruited from a diverse group of applicants and should help develop a new generation of genomics researchers. This experience will also expose the students to research conducted in international settings, which is a major goal of the Office of International Science and Engineering.

This award is funded by the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Division of Environmental Biology in the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Americas Program in the Office of International Science and Engineering.

Project Report

We held an international workshop at the Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para al Biodiversidad (LANGEBIO) in Irapuato, Mexico. The workshop was called "Evolutionary genomics of non-model species: next generation sequencing, data management, & hypothesis testing," and ran from July 19-22, 2011. The purposes of the workshop included 1) educating graduate students and postdocs about using next-generation sequencing techniques to address questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation 2) creating collaborations between US and Mexican scientists, and 3) creating a network of contacts and mentors for graduate students in ecology and evolution. Over 40 students participated with equal numbers from the US and Mexico. In particular, the students from Mexico had little exposure to the topic before the workshop and were able to make connections within their own country and in the US where these technologies are more accessible. We believe the students that attended the workshop will conduct research that will have its own impact on multiple disciplines and that they have a network of colleagues available to them for help and for future collaborations. As a direct result of the workshop, several international collaborations were established. For example, one student from Veracruz, Mexico received funding to visit the University of Georgia to work in a molecular lab for four months. Similarly, one student from the University of Florida began collaborating with a faculty member at LANGEBIO and is now moving there for a postdoctoral position. In, 2013, a follow-up workshop was offered at the University of Colorado, Denver to focus on a specific new technology that several students were interested in using for their thesis research. Eight students attended the workshop and have created a support network for learning the computer programming needed to analyze their data. Overall, the workshops brought together young scientists from the US and Mexico that worked together on projects, created friendships, shared languages and left with improved understanding of each other's culture. Many students from the US left Mexico with a better appreciation of the high quality work being done there, and therefore of the country itself. These experiences will improve knowledge about relations between US and Mexico and provide opportunities for continued international collaboration.

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University of Georgia
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