Photo of Dr. Reiss
Rebecca Reiss, Ph.D., Genetics

If it has DNA, it's interesting!  I'm excited to be a part of the paradigm shift underway in genetics fueled by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Techniques.

Next generation sequencing (also known as high-throughput or massively parallel sequencing) provides an unprecedented view of nucleic acid changes.  No longer do we need to know anything about the genome of any organism.  All we need to do is to extract DNA or RNA, prepare libraries, and determine the sequence of the nucleic acids using a high-throughput sequencing instrument.  Once the sequence of each piece of DNA in the library is established, these reads are matched to a known sequence (known as the reference sequence) to establish its identity.  A variety of bioinformatic tools are then used to analyze the data.

At first glance, my current research projects may seem unrelated other than all are NGS datasets. The North Railroad Avenue Plume (NRAP) tracks changes in microbial populations in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund undergoing remediation. Two projects involve the changes in gene expression  in mammals; one involves rats exposed to a diet high in fat and the other follows changes brain cancer cell culture gene expression when exposed to a potential drug.  A future dataset involves the changes in cells destine to become bone as they adapt to growth on titanium with different surface characteristics.  But they all address my major interest, how do changes in the genetic material make it possible for cells and organisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions?

All of the projects use the massively parallel sequencing techniques known as "sequencing by synthesis" (SBS) method pioneered by Illumina/Solexa.  The SBS technique eliminates the need for a priori information on sequence composition and provides a less biased view of genomes and gene expression when compared to microarray technology.

Published by the Biology Department, Jones Annex, NM Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM, 87801 (575) 835-5612

Dr. Rebecca A. Reiss
Associate Professor of Biology
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801
Phone: (575) 835-5347
FAX: (575) 835-5668

Ph.D., Genetics, Cornell University, 1991
M.S., Genetics, University of New Hampshire, 1978
B.S., Biology, University of Colorado, 1976. Major: Population Biology
Certificate, Photography, Modern School of Photography, 1976


CHAIR, Bioinformatics Working Group, New Mexico Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). July 2004 - present.
ACTING CHAIR, Department of Biology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech), January - July 2005.
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, BIOLOGY. NM Tech. 1995 - 2004. Teaching duties include general biology, molecular techniques, cell biology, genetics, molecular ecology, conservation biology, and biotechnology. Mentor undergraduates, graduates in the Master's of Biology program, and high-school teachers in the Master's of Science Teaching program. Research involves the molecular biogeography and molecular evolution of arthropods, microbes, and mammals.
POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER. University of North Dakota, Department of Biology. 1993 - 1995. Developed molecular genetic techniques to study the biogeography of modern and fossil arctic and alpine beetles.
POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER. University of California at Irvine, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Irvine, CA. 1991 - 1993. Conducted research aimed at developing novel methods of controlling the transmission of insect borne infectious diseases.
Professional Societies

American Association for the Advancement of Science 
Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 
Sigma-Xi Scientific Research Society 
New Mexico Biotechnology and Biomedical Association 
Association for Women in Science 
National Center for Science Education 
Coalition for Science and Math Education

Other Professional Activities

Bioscience Education Network Scholar, Nov. 3, 2006 - present.
Advisory Committee, New Mexico Tech Master of Science for Teachers     Program, Sept., 2006 - present. 
Board of Directors, New Mexico Coalition for Science and Math Education, July, 2006 - present. 
Board of Directors, New Mexico Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, 2002 - 2004.  New Mexico Tech Environmental Science Program Advisory Committee, 1998 - present.  Participant in the National Center for Genome Research Bioinformatics Workshop, Santa Fe, NM, 11 - 15 March, 2002. 
Participant in the 28th NATO Advance Study Institute: Molecular Ecology, Erice, Sicily, 18 - 30 March, 1998. 
Endangered Species Act peer-review board, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, 1996 - present.
Course Syllabi:
BIOL 435/535 Bioinfomatics