Teaching Resource: Computing Life

Explaining biocomputation to non-scientists can leave a person tongue-tied. Technical jargon gets in the way, and the breadth of the field resists encapsulation.


To help out, and to reach out to a new generation of future scientists, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has now published Computing Life. Due out in September 2007, the 24-page booklet presents snapshots of scientists’ labs and brief overviews of what’s happening across the field. The intended audience: high school and early college students.


“With tremendous challenges ahead, we need to encourage young people to think about science with excitement and creativity,” says Karin Remington, PhD, Director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at NIGMS. “Publications such as Computing Life help to light a spark, channeling what might’ve been untapped intellectual power toward the sciences, and building appreciation for the relevance and importance of scientific research in our lives.”


To that end, Computing Life reads like a magazine. It’s very visual, with plenty of colorful and intriguing graphics and tight, explanatory captions. “The booklet brings pop culture to the science,” says editor Emily Carlson of the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.


Topics covered include genomics, protein folding, infectious disease modeling, molecular dynamics simulation, and systems biology, among others. The booklet also provides links to online material including simulations and movies. “We plan to maintain a complementary web site,” says Carlson. “We’ll post new material there as our way of keeping the publication up to date."


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