Area college undergraduates and high school students have the opportunity to work side-by-side with accomplished scientists, conducting cutting-edge research in a pioneering field in computer science, thanks to a new summer program being offered at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The Ethics of Scientific Publications” is a program designed to bring students to Virginia Tech’s on-campus bioinformatics research facility for seven weeks over the summer to work in the laboratory of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Executive Director Harold “Skip” Garner.

Participants will assist the research group with computer programming and system testing for a text similarity resource, eTBLAST, an online search tool developed by the group to compare scientific journal submissions to articles in existing databases in an effort to identify potential duplicate citations before they are published in scientific journals.

Text similarity search applications are capable of detecting large amounts of text from various sources that are highly similar, making them an effective resource for monitoring scientific publications for duplication and potential plagiarism. eTBLAST feeds information to Déjà vu, an online database also developed by Garner’s team, that features instances of duplicate and possibly plagiarized articles, which are uncovered from in-depth searches of the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database, MEDLINE.

“This is an excellent opportunity for high school and undergraduate students who are interested in computer programming and output validation to gain valuable research experience working with science professionals in a world-renowned research institute,” said Garner. “We strive to provide valuable educational opportunities for students of all levels at [the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute] and this program is another example of our commitment to help prepare the next generation of researchers for careers in cutting-edge scientific disciplines.”

The summer program is open to rising sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate students who are familiar with and competent using at least three of the following: the computer programming languages Perl, C, and Python, and Web-based programming. High school students between the ages of 14 and 18 who have some computer programming experience, are interested in pursuing a career in computer science, or are interested in working with computer output indicative of publication ethics issues are encouraged to apply.

Find more information about program dates, as well as application instructions and deadlines online.

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