Toryn Poolman (contributions from Amanda Cain, Structural & Molecular Biology)
The final year of a biochemistry degree is usually a time to experience research. COVID19 made the format of final year research projects impossible. To overcome these problems we used open datasets to teach metagenomics to biochemistry undergraduates (with limited computing experience). We aimed to give the students a chance to explore any dataset, rather than use a small number of artificial datasets. To achieve this, we utilised Google Colaboratory (Colab), a virtual computing environment. Colab was used as a framework to retrieve raw sequencing data, complete the analysis (stored in Google Drive), and generate visualisations. Setting up the environment requires no prior knowledge, all students have the same drive structure and notebooks can be shared (with synchronous sessions). Colab is an excellent environment to develop data skills. In future, all student projects will involve integration of public datasets, developing data science skills to understand the projects of their choice.