Characterizing C. elegans Using Reverse Genetics

Course Description

This is a Course-based Research Experience (CRE) class that will provide you with the chance to propose, design, and conduct your own research project, working on topics and seeking answers to questions that are currently unknown to science.

A CRE course engages the whole classroom in a discovery-based research question that is of interest to the scientific community. It reflects how research is done in a professional laboratory, progressing with the discovery of new results, working collaboratively in groups, and iteration of experiments in order to replicate, troubleshoot, and problem solve. You will have the opportunity to develop your own hypothesis-driven research question with a focus on genetics and molecular biology, directing research that no one knows the answer to yet. In this course, we will be asking the question "What happens to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans if we alter a particular gene?"

This CRE course will be conducted in a Hybrid format. The first 2 weeks will be virtual with you researching your chosen topic and learning about various scientific techniques that can be used to test your hypothesis. There will be live sessions each week where we will discuss your projects and provide feedback on the experimental design. You will spend the next 3 weeks on-campus at Brown performing your experiments in our laboratory facilities.

Using gene silencing (RNAi) in C. elegans, you will work in groups to study the function of different genes and how they affect the phenotype of the animal. You will conduct your proposed experiments, and then analyze the data and present your conclusions. This approach allows us to gather clues to what the function of a gene is, and we can further determine if this gene would be a potential target to design therapeutics to treat diseases.

This immersive experience will put into practice the concepts and content of the lecture and implement the scientific method.

By the end of the course, you will have:
• Developed an intimate understanding of various laboratory skills, including genetic manipulation, C. elegans maintenance and experimentation, microscopy, PCR, agarose gel electrophoresis, SDS PAGE, and Western blot;
• Designed and implemented experiments to answer your research question;
• Collected data from laboratory investigations, accurately recorded observations in an online notebook, and critically analyzed experimental results;
• Critically analyzed scientific literature and improved scientific writing skills;
• Reported your scientific findings, both in oral and written formats.

This course will prepare you to continue the scientific investigation with confidence and fidelity. Transferrable skills include lab techniques that can be used in other (non-nematode) fields, organization and time-management skills, teamwork and leadership skills, oral and written communication skills, and the ability to critically interpret data presented on various platforms (television, social media, etc.)


Students must be 16 by June 19, 2022 to participate in this course. This course was designed for students with an intermediate experience level in biology. Students with the following attributes will get the most benefit from this course: 1) experience working with the scientific method; 2) understanding of primary source research; 3) exposure to genetics and transcription and translation; 4) good communication and time-management skills to support group work.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 05, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 5 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Blended 7/5-7/17 with required live sessions every Wednesday from 11:00AM - 12:00PM and Friday from 12:00PM - 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) and On-Campus 7/18-8/5 M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: Hybrid
Instructor(s): Anita Kumar
Joslyn Mills-Bonal
Course Number: 10140