Learning Genomics at the Speed of Light

It’s not often that a person can be in more than one place at the same time. James Vincent, Research
Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of the Bioinformatics Core for the Vermont Genetics Network
(VGN), managed to accomplish just that.

Dr. Vincent offered for the first time a class titled, Data Intensive Computing for Applied Bioinformatics,
at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont. Dr. Elizabeth Dolci, Professor and Chair of Environmental
& Health Sciences at Johnson State College, co‐instructed the class. Through the use of a video
conferencing system and an upgraded fiber connection between Johnson State College and the I2 UVM
backbone, the seemingly impossible, became possible.

Students at Johnson State College in Johnson, the University of Vermont, in Burlington, and Norwich
University in Northfield, Vermont attended the class simultaneously. Dr. Vincent was able to teach the
students cutting edge bioinformatics course work to the diverse group.
Workforce Development

Dr. Vincent aims to train the next generation of bioinformaticians in Vermont and to help sustain this
emerging and increasingly critical field of study. Bioinformatics applies computer technology to the
management of large datasets comprised of biological information. Dr. Vincent is also one of the lead
researchers studying the Little Skate genome through funding provided by NSF EPSCoR Track‐2 and the
Northeast Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (NECC).
“This course uses technology and trains people to use that technology – all at the same time” said Dr.

Vermont’s mountainous landscape and sparse population distribution presents great challenges for high
speed Internet access and thus, transmission of large data sets. Funding provided by NSF EPSCoR has
resulted in increased access to expertise and course offerings such as Dr. Vincent’s for all Vermont
students at geographically diverse campuses.