BERKELEY, Calif. — UC Berkeley is adding something a little different this year in its welcome package — cotton swabs for a DNA sample.
In the past, incoming freshman and transfer students have received a rather typical welcome book from the College of Letters and Science’s “On the Same Page” program, but this year the students will be asked for more.
The students will be asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample. The cotton swabs will come with two bar code labels. One label will be put on the DNA sample and the other is kept for the students own records.
The confidential process is being overseen by Jasper Rine, a campus professor of Genetics and Development Biology, who says the test results will help students make decisions about their diet and lifestyle.
Once the DNA sample is sent in and tested, it will show the student’s ability to tolerate alcohol, absorb folic acid and metabolize lactose.
The results of the test will be put in a secure online database where students will be able to retrieve their results by using their bar code.
Rine hopes that this will excite students to be more hands-on with their college experience.
“This type of experience is one of the true, unique values of a Berkeley education. We don’t just give you books to read,” Mark Schlissel, dean of the division of biological sciences said. “We involve you in cutting edge issues in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. You won’t see this anywhere else in higher education.”
Previously incoming students were advised to read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Stephen Hawking’s “A Briefer History of Time” as behavioral guides.
There will also be a variety of events and lectures at the campus on lifestyle choices for all undergraduate students who choose not to participate in the DNA program.
There will also be a science-themed art contest that will award the four best entries with a full genetic analysis.