Wednesday 12 May 2021 2:41pm
A select group of New Zealand’s top high school biology students visited Otago Biochemistry recently as part of the New Zealand International Biology Olympiad (NZIBO) training camp.
The camp is a residential, 10-day programme of practical laboratory sessions, field work, and seminars with some of New Zealand’s top scientists, this year held at the University of Otago in Dunedin.
Included in the busy schedule was an intensive biochemistry practical day. Biochemistry teaching guru Shar Snoeck led the students through hands-on experiments and a computer session, all centred on the molecular basis of Cystic Fibrosis disease.
Biochemistry teacher Shar talks with NZIBO camp students.
Activities included a restriction digest of plasmid DNA and a PCR reaction, assessing the experiments with gel electrophoresis, carrying out a 'blast' search with a gene sequence to find similar sequences in a database, and looking at a 3D protein structure online.
The students were also treated to a compelling talk by Otago Biochemist Professor Peter Dearden about some of the research carried out in his lab: honey bee epigenetics and breeding, wasp genetics, and various conservation genetics projects.
Professor Peter Dearden speaks to the NZIBO camp students about his research.
NZIBO helps to select and prepare the country’s top biology students for the prestigious International Biology Olympiad competition. To enter, year 12 high school students compete in a series of two exams and a tutorial programme. The best 20-25 students are offered places in the training camp. On the basis of their academic performance throughout the camp, a team of four students is then selected to represent New Zealand at the International Biology Olympiad.