Theresa (Tia) Johnson

BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
Beloit College
700 College Street
Beloit, WI 53511

phone: (608) 363-2480
fax: (608) 363-2052


Bioinformatics is the rapidly growing science of analyzing electronically stored and distributed biological data using computer-based tools. The accumulation of vast, complex genomic data sets enables us to formulate and test hypotheses in a variety of fields such as conservation, medicine, agriculture, and forensics. BEDROCK (Bioinformatics Education Dissemination: Reaching Out, Connecting, and Knitting Together) is an NSF-funded project aimed at integrating bioinformatics throughout the undergraduate biology curriculum, using an inquiry-based approach in which students explore and analyze actual data in a way that recreates the experience of conducting research.

The BEDROCK grant is an NSF-funded project to enhance, expand, and empower a national community of bioinformatics educators. The project goals include highlighting and distributing innovative approaches to incorporating bioinformatics data and techniques throughout undergraduate biology education; and establishing mechanisms for the broad dissemination of bioinformatics resource materials and innovative teaching models.

Current projects

One of the focuses of my work with BEDROCK is to develop curricular materials and organize resources for bioinformatics educators. Presently I am compiling a problem space of the protein RuBisCo. The problem space combines background information, sequences, links to online software tools, and other materials. Students are encouraged to explore this data, design their own research questions, conduct analyses, interpret the results, and present their findings for peer discussion. Educators are encourage to use the problem space to suit their course needs, to restyle the problem space as best suits the level of the class, and to contribute back to the problem space; thereby enhancing it through the incorporation of their own suggestions, revisions, observations, and curricular materials.

A large component of a national dissemination project like BEDROCK involves presenting at workshops and conferences around the country. BEDROCK itself holds six such workshops a year to support faculty interested in exploring new ways of teaching bioinformatics and in developing curricular materials, in addition to speaking at similar conferences sponsored by other organizations. (See the BioQUEST calendar for a list of past and future workshops). If you or someone at your institution would be interested in hosting or co-sponsoring a BEDROCK workshop, please contact Sue Risseeuw at 608-363-2012.

BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium actively supports educators interested in the reform of undergraduate biology and engages in the collaborative development of curricula. We offer the following resources: the BioQUEST Library, BQ Notes, the BioQUEST Website, publications by project staff and participants, workshops and presentations for institutions and organizations, and support of an extended BioQUEST community. We encourage the use of simulations, databases, and tools to construct learning environments where students are able to engage in activities like those of practicing scientists.

Microbes Count!
is a collection of course activities based on these principles. Microbes Count! is a set of multimedia resources, simulations, and tools that offer an interactive, open-ended environment for learning about microbiology. These resources are research-related, contemporary, and lend themselves to collaborative learning in classroom, laboratory, field, or computer workspaces. Microbes Count! can be purchased from ASM Press. A number of the activities were developed in collaboration with undergraduate faculty at the 2001 BioQUEST Summer Workshop.

Presentations and involvement at Workshops and Conferences

July 2003. Summer Modeling Institute. MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling, Milwaukee, WI.

June 2003. Fractal Dimension and Image Analysis. Bridges to the Future Annual Program Meeting (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Tahoe, CA.

May 2003. Enabling Exploration for Everyone, Everytime, Everywhere: Collaboratories, Digital Libraries and Computational Biology Education. BioQUEST Curriculum at Beloit College, Beloit, WI.

May 2003. Evolutionary Bioinformatics Education: A BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium Approach; an NSF Chautauqua short course at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA.

April 2003. Bioinformatics in Biology Education: Working with Sequence, Structure, and Function; a BEDROCK Workshop at University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT.

March 2003. Bioinformatics in the Undergraduate Curriculum; hosted by Center for Educational Technology, Dickinson College, and the Central Pennsylvania Consortium; at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
February 2003. Instructional Technologists at Liberal Arts Colleges: Exploring Our Dynamic Roles; an MITC workshop at University of Michigan Media Union, Ann Arbor, MI.

January 2003. Innovative Science Teaching: Enhancing Learning with Technology; an MITC workshop at DePauw University, Greencastle, IN.

October 2002. Bioinformatics in Biology Education: Working with Sequence, Structure, and Function; a BEDROCK Workshop at CloudShield Technologies, Sunnyvale, CA.


Jungck, J. R., T. Johnson, A. E. Weisstein, and J. Tusin. "Modeling More Mold." Pages 33-39 in Microbes Count!, ed. Jungck, J. R., M. F. Fass, and E. D. Stanley.

Douthwright, J., F. Percival, J. A. Benbasat, T. Johnson, and J. R. Jungck. "Population Explosion: Modeling Phage Growth." Pages 41-49 in Microbes Count!, ed. Jungck, J. R., M. F. Fass, and E. D. Stanley.

Jungck, J. R., T. Johnson, and J. Tusin. "Shaped to Survive." Pages 73-81 in Microbes Count!, ed. Jungck, J. R., M. F. Fass, and E. D. Stanley.

Jungck, J. R., B. Halgren, J. Tusin, and T. Johnson. "Valuing Variable Variegation." Pages 229-233 in Microbes Count!, ed. Jungck, J. R., M. F. Fass, and E. D. Stanley.

Research Interests:

Molecular Modelling and Visualization
Protein Folding
Fractal Analysis

[Last updated 05-Aug-2005]