Learn how to translate the “big data” generated in biological and health research into knowledge that improves human health.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
As a Bioinformatics major, you’ll take courses in computer science, computational biology, mathematics, statistics and chemistry. Dive into research and project-based coursework alongside your professors, and present professional-level research as an undergraduate.
Take advantage of the Wild Basin Creative Research Center, an Austin nature preserve managed by St. Edward’s, where Bioinformatics students have conducted research on — for example — the fungal microbiomes of native plants. And connect with Austin’s growing biotechnology industry, where companies are using bioinformatics to develop solutions to problems in agriculture as well as genetic testing and personalized medicine.
What do our graduates do?
Bioinformatics majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample of what our recent graduates are doing.
- Working at CDK Global and Dell EMC
- Completing a Computer Science graduate program at the University of California Davis as the Integrated Computational Entomology fellowship recipient
- Completing the Bioinformatics master’s program at St. Louis University Bioinformatics, as the recipient of the National Science Foundation BITWISE Scholarship
- Graduate students at Boston University, Saint Louis University, the University of Central Florida and The University of Texas at Dallas
The Thrill of Discovery
Undergraduate research at St. Edward’s connects students with professional mentors, encourages them to take on new challenges and helps some find careers they never imagined. Read about five students, including a Bioinformatics major, whose research is finding answers.
The Classroom and Beyond
As a Bioinformatics major, you’ll have many opportunities to develop your lab and computer science skills in your classes and through research on campus, at Wild Basin Creative Research Center, and at labs across the country. You can also take advantage of internships in Austin, a nexus for biomedical research and the tech industry.
Your lab for Genomics is part of the Genomics Education Partnership, a nationwide collaboration of more than 100 universities that trains undergraduates in research methods. As part of their coursework, students annotate the genome of a fruit fly. The work of students in this course has twice been published in a scientific journal.
Bioinformatics is a project-based course in which students apply their programming skills (Python) to a variety of problem sets. In this class you’ll develop code to solve biologic questions.
Bioinformatics majors also take several semesters of research.
You’ll have ample opportunities to conduct research at St. Edward’s and in other university labs across the country.
At St. Edward’s, students have worked with a professor to characterize the fungal microbiome of the roots of native Texas plants at Wild Basin Creative Research Center. Students worked on the entire process: collecting samples at the nature preserve, preparing the DNA in the lab, sending the samples off for sequencing and analyzing the data.
Students also work on research independently. One student worked over the summer to study the fungal microbiome of bean plants, testing a link between plant genotype and phosphate stress resistance. Her work, which took place in the St. Edward’s greenhouse, was funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant.
Bioinformatics majors have presented their research and won awards at regional and national scientific meetings, including the following:
- Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
- Texas Academy of Science
- Association for Biomolecular Resource Facilities
Bioinformatics majors have a strong track record of being selected for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, competitive summer research intensives at top labs around the country. The 10-week programs are designed to help students decide if they want to pursue a career in research. St. Edward’s students have been selected for the following REUs:
- Studying the influenza virus through the Bioinformatics Research and Interdisciplinary Training Experience REU at Boston University
- Writing computer programs to analyze plant DNA in a horticulture REU at Michigan State University
- Bioinformatics majors have also been selected for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunity Program fellowship, which places students in labs across the country. A St. Edward’s student recently was placed in a protein interaction lab at the University of Washington, where she studied a protein called TrkA, which has implications in cancer and pain sensitivity.
Another student was chosen for the Opportunities in Genomics Research Undergraduate Scholars program at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis.
As a Bioinformatics major, you can supplement your research experience with an internship. Students have recently interned at the following organizations:
- The J. Craig Venter Institute, which conducts genomic research to advance human health and environmental sustainability
- Texas Advanced Computing Center
As a student in the Bioinformatics program you are afforded access to the funding programs, including paid internships, offered exclusively to STEM students at St. Edward’s University by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4). For more information on these programs please visit the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4).
Students with an affinity for teaching and mentorship can assist younger students by serving as teaching assistants. At St. Edward’s, all classes are taught by professors, but student teaching assistants help tutor and lead study sessions. You’ll expand your communication and people skills by helping other students learn the material.
The St. Edward’s chapter of the Texas Academy of Science supports student research, including presentation and publication opportunities. Members also tutor in the sciences and complete other service projects.
You can apply to join the Natural Sciences Living Learning Community your freshman year. Members of the LLC live together in the same residence hall and take a fall-semester science course together. They also arrive on campus before school begins to learn research tools and methodologies so they can join research projects early in their college career. LLC members participate in regular community dinners and recreational activities to relax and have fun together.
Major Requirements: The BS in Bioinformatics requires 80 hours of major courses, which include a combination of computer science, computational biology, mathematics/statistics and chemistry.
General Education Requirements: In addition to the major program requirements, all students must satisfy the general education requirements. Talk with your success coach and faculty advisor about which courses are right for you.
View and download the full degree plan for the Bioinformatics major (PDF).
A few examples of courses students in this major take:
- Mathematical Modeling in Biology – An introduction to ordinary differential equations and their applications to biology. Topics include first-order differential equations, first-order systems, linear systems, nonlinear systems, forcing and resonance, numerical methods, and dynamical systems, as time permits. Biological modeling and examples drawn from research articles in biology will be incorporated throughout the course.
- Bioinformatics – Focuses on the development and application of computational approaches to ask and answer biological questions. Material will be drawn from specific, relevant biological problems including biological sequence analysis, genome sequencing and assembly, biological pattern recognition, analysis of DNA microarray data, and biological networks.
- Biological Programming – Taught in the context of biological research, this course introduces students to the principles and tools necessary to manipulate and analyze biological data. With an emphasis on
data acquisition and analysis, topics may include computational techniques used in the study of genomes and proteomes, ecological data analysis and mathematical modeling of biological systems.
I teach based on my understanding of how we all learn new information through the context of compelling questions and a need-to-know basis. I find that this approach builds my students’ interest, motivation and ability to learn new material from numerous sources. It also facilitates my students’ transitions into successful professional careers as well as continuing studies in graduate school.
– Charles Hauser, Associate Professor of Bioinformatics
About the Minor
The Bioinformatics minor introduces students to the fields of bioinformatics and data science, while providing them with opportunities to develop skills in data handling, cloud computing, big data management and biomedical informatics.
To earn the minor, students take 11 hours of required courses and 10–12 hours of electives. For the electives, a minimum of two courses must be 3000-level or higher and a minimum of one course must be a 4-credit course.
View or download the full Minor in Bioinformatics degree plan (PDF)
Required Courses: 11 hours
- Bioinformatics I (1 hour)
- General Biology I (3 hours)
- General Biology I Lab (1 hour)
- Molecular Genetics (3 hours)
- Biological Programming (3 hours)
Required Electives: Choose 10–12 hours
- Biostatistics (3 hours)
- Genomics (4 hours)
- Bioinformatics II (4 hours)
- Human Genetics (3 hours)
- Geographic Information Systems (3 hours)
- Computing Sciences Concepts II (4 hours)
- Component Based Programming (3 hours)
- Introduction to Data Science (4 hours)