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What You'll Study
  • Tutorials that emphasize hands-on training in computational tools used in conservation genomic analyses
  • Design of conservation genomics projects
  • Overview of whole genome sequencing and reduced representation methods
  • Genome assembly and annotation
  • Read mapping and variant calling
  • Estimation of genome-wide diversity, inbreeding, and historical demography
  • Analysis of natural selection in population genomic data sets
  • Targeted capture enrichment methods and analysis
  • RNAseq methods and analysis
  • Use of Unix command line to access Smithsonian high-performance computing resources and pre-compiled software

Participants should have completed basic genetics and evolutionary biology coursework or have previous experience with genetics, genomics, or evolutionary biology.

Program Details

October 9 – 18, 2019

Available Formats

Graduate (CONS 697, 3 credits)
Professional Training (SMSC 530, 6.75 CEUs)


Graduate: See Mason’s graduate tuition rates

Professional Training: $2492.50*

*Professionals from certain countries are eligible for a reduced rate of $1742.50  which will automatically be reflected during the registration process.

Scholarships & financial aid


Apply by July 31, 2019

Payment Deadline: August 14, 2019

Meet the Faculty

Dr. Klaus-Peter Koepfli is a research scientist in the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Species Survival. His research focuses on genetics of endangered species. He and his group develop and apply state-of-the-art genomic tools to address the conservation and management of captive and wild populations of endangered species such as black-footed ferrets, sable antelope, dama gazelle, and different species of otters. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics at Saint Petersburg State University in Saint Petersburg, Russia and serves on the council of the Genome 10K Consortium, which aims to generate and assemble the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species.
Dr. Rebecca B. Dikow is a Research Data Scientist and leads the Smithsonian Institution Data Science Lab. She and Dr. Paul Frandsen founded the Data Science Lab at the Smithsonian in 2016 with the goal of working with Smithsonian scientists and outside partners to conduct biodiversity research, including genomics, informatics, and machine learning.
Dr. Lim is a faculty member in the Biology department at George Mason University where he teaches courses in biostatistics. His research focuses on the use of ecological, genetic and computational tools to understand how biological diversity is generated and shaped at various spatiotemporal scales.
Paul B. Frandsen is an Assistant Professor of Genetics, Genomics, and Biotechnology at Brigham Young University and is interested in the development of bioinformatics tools, biodiversity genomics, and the application of machine learning to biodiversity data. With Dr. Rebecca Dikow he co-founded the Data Science Lab at the Smithsonian Institution, where he remains a Research Associate.


This course provides a survey of the concepts, methods, and software used in conservation genomics research. Participants review theory and methods and perform hands-on tutorials using the tools necessary for conservation genomics science. Throughout the course we’ll be working with sample data from the Red Siskin genome project ( Participants learn how to design conservation genomics projects, how to choose which software packages best fit their data, how to use common software packages, and how to interpret the results. By the end of the course, participants will be able to conduct sophisticated genomic analyses and critically evaluate current conservation genomics research literature.

This course is designed for graduate students and early-career researchers interested in designing conservation genomics projects or already generating genome data to acquire the skills necessary to: assemble and annotate a genome and transcriptome, estimate demographic history and signatures of natural selection, and compare to existing genomic resources.  The hands-on tutorials in this workshop will be performed on a High-Performance Computing Cluster via the Unix command line. Although some review of Unix will be included in the course, all participants should be familiar with basic Unix commands. We recommend this short tutorial:

What’s Included

The total cost for professional training includes our Housing ($412.50) and Dining ($330.00) Packages and covers:

  • Instruction, course manual, and other course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Dulles International Airport (IAD) at pre-arranged times. We do not provide ground transportation shuttle service to or from any other airports in the Washington, DC, region
  • Transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at twice the cost of shared housing)

Acceptance does not guarantee you a seat in the course. Seats are allocated as registration payments are received, and early registration is strongly encouraged to ensure you get a spot.

Interested in Commuting?

Participants with a documented, permanent address local to campus may elect to commute with permission from SMSC. Commuters are required to purchase a reduced meal plan ($90) which includes lunch and snack breaks for each day of instruction. Additional dining options are available and may be selected during registration.  Email for additional information.

“A really comprehensive crash course, by the end of the course I felt comfortable navigating Unix and implementing high throughput data analytics for genome assembly. Overall a fantastic course with a great staff!”

Alex R. Graduate Student, George Mason University

“This is an intense hands-on and full-immersion course in bioinformatics and genomics. It is an excellent introduction to genome assembly, annotation and analyses in conservation genomics. I recommend it for anyone who wants to get started on research that takes a genomic approach in conservation – it will help you develop tools in the field and introduce you to top genomicists and bioinformaticians at the Smithsonian.”

2018 Course Participant
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