Education - Maryland Microbiome Project

In 2018, IGS launched an innovative outreach program for high school students from across the state called the Maryland Microbiome Project (MMP). A microbiome is a community of microorganisms that live together in a particular environment. Microbiomes in environments like soil and oceans are critical for the maintenance of Earth’s ecosystems, while those that live in and on humans are closely associated with human health. Through the MMP program, students not only learn about microbiome research but also participate in it by going out in the field to collect samples, into the classroom for engaging activities, and onto the computer to analyze data.

Current partnerships
We have established partnerships with several University System of Maryland campuses to incorporate microbiome activities into existing high school outreach programs. Currently we are working with the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work’s Promise Heights initiative with Renaissance Academy High School, the University of Maryland Baltimore’s P-TECH program with Dunbar High School, the University of Maryland College Park’s Terp Young Scholar summer program, and Frostburg State University’s Regional Math/Science Center summer program.

How it works
For schools/programs that are near enough to our UMB campus, students travel to our institute for a full day of activities. For more distant schools/programs we bring our microbiome experience to the location where the students are. The event includes a mixture of lecture, hands-on classroom activities, and field sampling of surfaces, soil, and water. All samples are then processed by 16S amplicon sequencing at our institute to identify the bacteria present in the sample. This sequence data is then analyzed by later groups of students in the program. The project is funded by the Center for Health-Related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB), a joint project of the University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Maryland College Park.

Join in the Fun of the Maryland Microbiome Project!
If you’d like your school to be part of the MMP program or just for more information about the program in general, please contact Michelle Gwinn Giglio.