Genetics class creates website

By Leeza Earl

USD pre-health students and their biology professor Laura Rivard launched a new way to learn about the advancements in genetics on the web. In the fall 2012, Rivard’s ethical issues in genetics class created a website called Genetics Generation. Continuing through the semester and winter break, these students were able to launch
“These students were driving the bus, working together to complete this site,” Rivard said.

The students reached out to genetic counselors, professors at surrounding universities, and doctors to obtain information in the most lacking areas in current topics and technologies of genetics.

In order to create an equal workplace the students divided the task of creating the website into four major groups.

The first group brainstormed ideas to incorporate and discussed marketing strategies.

The second group was in charge of creating a flowchart to organize their ideas and determining how they would appear on the website. The third group built the physical website and integrated all the information located on the website. The final group was in charge of the organization of the site and making sure the information was easy to understand.

“We wanted to create a site that would show people the advancements in genetics without being biased like other sites,” senior Piper Dankworth said.

The Genetics Generation wants to improve public understanding of current genetic technologies and the ethical questions they raise, therefore building a strong foundation for informed decision-making.
“With genetics constantly changing, we want to provide the public a place to see the truth without being biased,” senior Kierstie Svatos said.

While the website educates the public about the basics of genetics, it will also present current events that involve genetics, such as Proposition 37, which would require all genetically engineered food products to be labeled.

The Genetics Generation website has been active for less than a month and has already received several views from many people in the San Diego community. The site, however, is not limited to this area, and they do hope to expand over time.

After viewing the site, junior Katrina Bess thinks this will help any student interested in genetics.

“I think this site is very beneficial to individuals like me with an interest in genetics and biology,” Bess said. “This is like my genetics class online.”

The Genetics Generation will continue to improve the site with blogs and real-life applications. The site is currently providing quizzes, a glossary, genetic testing and information for laws and ethics. This allows the site to inform individuals from a scientific and ethical perspective. The components of the website are current updates, blogs and interactive features that allow the user to vote in case studies on ethical issues.

“This project helped my own understandings and I am sure it will help others,” senior Kierstie Svatos said.

Dr. Rivard will continue to manage the website and include it in her future biology classes to keep the information current and interesting.

Even though she is graduating, Dankworth would like to continue work with the website alongside her classmates and her professor.

“I would love to be able to continue to expand it in the future, especially with more video clips for things like current news,” Dankworth said.