About | ThemeWhat to Expect | Commitment | Who Should Apply? 

About the BIOME Institute

The BIOME (Biology and Mathematics Educators) Institute offers a unique opportunity to engage with a community of peers to address an educational challenge with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes.  The challenge, in this case, is implementation practices and resources that support students making sense of the pieces and patterns of science to make predictions, solve problems, and see science in a broader, interdisciplinary context. The community will be supported in this endeavor with access to experts in areas relevant to the challenge, information about useful resources, and community facilitators to guide the development process.  The BIOME Institute is offered by BioQUEST, with over 30 years of experience in science education reform, in collaboration with QUBES, which supports the quantitative biology community, and a broad range of educational projects.  

Research on professional development has demonstrated that it is difficult for even the most committed faculty to change pedagogical approaches working independently for a variety of reasons including time constraints, institutional resistance, and lack of resources.  Challenges to meaningful pedagogical change are most often identified during planning or implementation.  The BIOME Institute reduces barriers to change by providing faculty with information, resources, community, and guidance as they plan and implement new ideas.  The Summer Session provides a focused, information-rich opportunity to develop ideas, identify collaborators, and begin collecting resources.  The Fall Working Groups provide ongoing support, additional resources, and information, and peer feedback to increase faculty success in achieving their goals. 

Disciplinary and interdisciplinary institutional teams are encouraged to apply.  Individuals from all biological disciplines, as well as quantitative, physical, and social sciences, are welcome to apply.  Future faculty are welcome to apply and are encouraged to partner with a faculty member at their institution.  Upon completion of the BIOME Institute, participants will become BIOME Fellows, and receive a certificate of completion appropriate for tenure and promotion portfolios, teaching portfolios, and CVs.

2021 Theme: Building Scientific Worldviews

Scientific reasoning connects seemingly disparate pieces of information about the world into meaningful patterns that help us understand the underlying rules of nature. Working with both these pieces and patterns allows us to make predictions, solve problems, and see science in a broader, interdisciplinary context. Scientists need to move between these levels of information, and one of the goals of science education is to help students utilize these levels of understanding to incorporate new information in a meaningful framework.  Education research indicates that this approach--of providing a big picture in which to place new information relative to prior knowledge and key concepts-- helps students develop an expert approach to the content. Vision and Change (2011) urged faculty to use overarching concepts to provide a framework for understanding the relevance of narrower details about processes, and in the BIOME Institute this year, we will be focusing on practices and resources that help build scientific worldviews.  

On another level, scientific advances arise from new perspectives and approaches, and the diversity of individual contributions leads to more ideas, and greater advances. As the student demographics in our country become more diverse, faculty are presented with a remarkable opportunity to enhance the future of science by including these previously underrepresented voices. The BIOME Institute will aim to support faculty in incorporating more inclusive teaching practices, with the goal of better preparing students to build a broad scientific worldview that reflects the interdisciplinarity of modern scientific practices. We also want to help faculty empower students to communicate scientific ideas effectively both within and beyond the classroom. Our keynote speakers will be addressing these subthemes.

What to Expect

The BIOME Institute offers a community based professional development experience where participants will learn about resources and practices relevant to their teaching. The BIOME Institute is entirely virtual, beginning with a summer experience that sets participants up for fall working groups. The preliminary schedule is available and will be updated regularly. 

Summer Session

The summer session extends over three weeks, with limited time commitments in the first and third weeks.  Participants will be placed in small, facilitated discussion groups, which will meet each week during the workshop to discuss the keynotes and other ideas and events at the BIOME.  These meetings will accommodate participant’s schedules.  Each week will offer a keynote speaker and opportunities to engage with the broader community as well. However, the majority of the workshops, poster sessions, and discussions will happen during the second week, July 26-30. 

Share your work

There will be several opportunities to share what you have been working on and learn more about your colleagues' projects in virtual sharing sessions. We invite you to share about educational resources, projects, and programs that demonstrate ways to support students in building scientific worldviews. Materials can expand upon the BIOME subthemes of inclusive teaching practices, interdisciplinarity, and communicating science or any other topics that address supporting students in constructing their own scientific view of the world. 

Learn More & Submit a Proposal

Fall Working Groups

The fall working groups provide an opportunity to engage with like-minded colleagues and work through the challenges of implementing new ideas in the classroom based on participants’ interests. Working groups will form at the conclusion of the Summer Session and be facilitated by members of the BioQUEST and QUBES communities. Working groups should plan to attend synchronous bi-weekly meetings, while working asynchronously on projects between meetings. 


It is important that all participants are able to commit to the full professional development experience which includes:

  • Summer Session: July 19 - August 6, 2021
  • Fall Working Groups: September 6 - November 19, 2021

This is a supportive community of people sharing similar goals and challenges.  Colleagues share resources, ideas, and advice based on their own experiences, and provide each other with feedback on materials or plans. Your contributions are critical to the success of this experience. We recognize that unexpected circumstances may change schedules and that participants may not be able to attend synchronous events.  The summer session is designed to provide maximum flexibility by providing recordings of synchronous events and access to resources.  However, there is no substitute for time spent with your working group and we ask all participants to commit to full participation for the entire program.

Preliminary Schedule

Who should apply?

  • Faculty interested in inclusive teaching, interdisciplinarity, science communication, and how these themes intersect to promote a scientific worldview will benefit from the program.
  • Two-year and four-year faculty teaching all levels of undergraduate biology, quantitative biology, and life science-oriented mathematics will find the program relevant.  
  • Future faculty are welcome to apply and are encouraged to partner with a faculty member. 
    • The BIOME Institute will include programming specifically for graduate students and post-docs. During registration, future faculty may apply to volunteer during the BIOME to receive a full registration waiver. Future faculty application questions include: 
      • What other professional development events have you attended in the past three years?
      • How would participating in the BIOME as a future faculty volunteer further your career?
      • Reference: Please provide the name and email address of someone who can serve as a professional reference.
  • We encourage teams from a single institution or partner institutions to apply, especially interdisciplinary teams and teams combining part-time and full-time faculty. Each team member must complete an application.
    • Team participation is just as flexible as individual participation; teams have the option of joining the same Fall Working Groups and collaborating on institutional projects, but are not required to. We do encourage teams to branch out during the Summer Session and connect with new colleagues. 
  • The meeting sponsors strive to increase the inclusivity and accessibility of this event, and to that end, we encourage persons requiring accommodations to apply and let us know how we can support their participation.  

The application is now closed. 

More information

Subscribe to the BioQUEST mailing list to receive summer workshop updates: Subscribe

If you have any questions, please contact Hayley Orndorf (hco1 "at" pitt "dot" edu)