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NEWSLETTER: VOL II, #3, MARCH 5, 1998

CHIME Based Term Papers on the Web:
A New Way Of Presenting Biochemical Structural Information

Professor S. C. Hartsel
Department of Chemistry, UW-Eau Claire


In fall of 1996/97, students in the Junior/Senior Biophysical Chemistry class at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire were required to compose term papers on structural aspects of some well characterized biomolecular system (i.e., having x-ray or NMR 3-D coordinate set). The papers were published in a WWW page format with interactive embedded figures viewed with the RasMol-based CHIME plug-in from MDL. Simple button-activated scripting was used to highlight and focus on structural/functional aspects of the chosen protein/nucleic acid. The ability to use hyperlinks allowed for connection to a diverse body of information from within the paper. I found that the computer technological barrier of composition was easiest to overcome if students used Netscape both as a web page editor and browser, hence reducing the number of programs to master. RasMol was useful as a visualization and script composing tool. The process was facilitated by giving students a series of on-line templates as starting points (www.chem.uwec.edu/Chem406/modeling.html). A large modern computer lab and expensive software was not necessary; only a small cluster of 5 older (2-6 years) computers was available locally for editing for the first run in 1996. Many students successfully used home and/or general access campus computers. Although the class sizes were 18 and 30 students, this type of project could be extended to much larger classes. The project produced a successful and often insightful collection of electronic review papers which also amounted to individual student "cyber-portfolios" as an adjunct to resumes for employment or graduate/professional programs. In addition this past year, a relationship was established with the The University of Minnesota Biocatalysis/Biodegradation Database, and many students were able to have their papers become part of this international database resource. They can be viewed at http://www.chem.uwec.edu/Chem406/Webpages97/termpap.html.