Science Fair Posters: the origin of sequence logos

Image of a blue prize ribbon 'FIRST PLACE'.

These are photographs of Science Fair posters by R. Michael Stephens (1990) and Nate Herman (1991). The original posters were accepted by the NIH Museum. Unfortunately the museum found that they were moldy and could not be preserved. So this archive is the only record of them.

At NCI at Frederick we have a great program here for high school students, the Student Intern Program (my web page, official web page). Mike Stephens was my first student and Nate Herman my second.

R. Michael Stephens (1990)

Stephens Poster

Linganore High School Science Fair, First Place, Biochemistry 1990; Navy Science Award

My first SIP student, Mike Stephens, published two papers with me:

author = "T. D. Schneider
 and R. M. Stephens",
title = "Sequence Logos: A New Way to Display Consensus Sequences",
journal = "Nucleic Acids Res.",
volume = "18",
pages = "6097-6100",
year = "1990"}
author = "R. M. Stephens
  and T. D. Schneider",
title = "Features of spliceosome evolution and function
inferred from an analysis of the information at human splice sites",
journal = "J. Mol. Biol.",
volume = "228",
pages = "1124-1136",
year = "1992"}

The first paper is now well known by molecular biologists and widely used. It is in the top 50 cited publications of the journal Nucleic Acids Research (currently #50). The second paper was the basis of many other papers from my lab and it is the topic of the poster.

Tiny image of human donor and acceptor sequence logos
connected by an intron curve and surrounded by exon curves.

Origin of Sequence Logos
Mike entered a science fair describing his work on human splice junctions and won in it. The significance of the poster is a figure where Mike marked the 'consensus sequences' of human donor and acceptor splice junctions on a table of the numbers of each base at each position. We were surprised to observe that these two consensus sequences are the same. Above these tables we showed the information content and it is different. How could two sites have the same 'consensus' and yet be different? This puzzle led us to invent sequence logos, so it has some historical significance. In the figure to the right are the logos for the donor and acceptor sites. You can see that the consensus is the same but that the emphasis is different. To understand the interesting biological significance of this observation, you can read the paper.

Nathan D. Herman (1991)

Herman Posters

First Place, Biochemistry (Frederick High School Science Fair, Frederick, MD March 2, 1991);
Fourth Place, Biochemistry and Marine Corps "best in show" (Frederick County Science Fair, Frederick, MD).

There are two science fair posters from Nate Herman who published this paper with me:

author = "N. D. Herman
  and T. D. Schneider",
title = "High Information Conservation Implies that at Least Three
Proteins Bind Independently to {F} Plasmid \emph{incD} Repeats",
journal = "J. Bacteriol.",
volume = "174",
pages = "3558-3560",
year = "1992"}
These have some of the earliest sequence logos.

color bar Small icon for Theory of Molecular Machines: physics,
chemistry, biology, molecular biology, evolutionary theory,
genetic engineering, sequence logos, information theory,
electrical engineering, thermodynamics, statistical
mechanics, hypersphere packing, gumball machines, Maxwell's
Daemon, limits of computers

Schneider Lab

origin:    2007 Aug 28
updated: 2014 Mar 06

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