Poster Information and Abstracts

Below are the posters that will be on display Sunday, June 19 at 3:30 pm, listed in alphabetical order by title. A searchable spreadsheet of the poster information can be found by clicking on the image of the database below. For help navigating and using the database, click on the "Database Guide" box. 

If you would like to make your poster electronically available, please send a PDF of your poster to qubeshub@gmail.com. We will post it with your abstract on this page, and eventually in the poster database for others to see before and after the Summer Institute. 

   


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AIMS: Analyzing Images to learn Mathematics and Statistics

Jeremy Wojdak

Abstract: Many of the pedagogical reforms in biomathematics and biostatistics focus on already quantitatively strong students (e.g., biocalculus or computational biology courses), or require intense per-capita investment of resources (e.g. research experiences in biomath). Instructional materials and approaches that can be used across the spectrum of student aptitude/preparedness, and at institutions with fewer resources, are needed to bridge the national gaps of interest and aptitude in quantitative skills. This project seeks to meet that need by creating modules that actually allow real scientific exploration but require only a computer. By adding contextual understanding and choosing fascinating topics, mundane data exercises (e.g., conduct an ANOVA with the data at the end of the text chapter) become answers to questions posed by the students themselves (e.g., Do all predators induce similar morphological change in their tadpole prey?).  Learning materials have been created, assessed, and disseminated that allow meaningful hypothesis formation, data collection, and most importantly analyses, and that capture student interest via image analysis of fascinating biological phenomena. The design process has been iterative, alternating between formative feedback from peers and classroom testing. An external evaluator developed assessments of student learning of, and attitude towards, quantitative approaches. Partner institutions are broadening the scope of assessment to cover a great deal of diversity in student population and institution type. 

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wojdak poster

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Aisles of confusion: A case study exploration of food production and labeling practices. 

Justin Pruneski, Enya Granados, Kaylee Wilburn

Abstract: This case study is being designed to explore claims made about modern food production and labeling practices to help students distinguish the science from the pseudoscience.  It is geared towards a general audience and could be used in high school or undergraduate Introductory Biology courses.  The opening storyline focuses on a family at the grocery store shopping for ingredients for a meal, when they become confused by all of the options for seemingly simple food items.  This initiates questions about terms and labels such as non-GMO, organic, local, cage-free, antibiotic-free, gluten-free, and others.       

After initial reflection and discussion of what they know and what they need to know, students will be asked to explore these food terms to determine how they are defined, how labeling is regulated, the effect on human health or the environment, how they affect price, and the science behind the term.  The goal is to help students make informed decisions by asking questions, seeking answers, and finding and critically evaluating sources of information.  Teaching methods, follow-up activities, and assessments are still being considered, but may include jigsaw, student presentations, taste testing, and exploring family recipes.  This project is still early in its development, so we welcome feedback and ideas for potential topics, mechanisms of implementation, or resources.

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pruneski poster

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The Best Instrument May Not Be The Most Fit: Applying Measurement Standards to Evolution Education Assessments

Cory Kohn, Kathryn L. Schwartz, Alexa R. Warwick, Ross H. Nehm, Louise S. Mead

Abstract: Many published instruments aim to measure knowledge, understanding, and/or acceptance of evolution. It is often unclear, however, that these instruments are adequately measuring the intended construct or are appropriate for the particular population being assessed. Here we provide a comprehensive review of twelve commonly cited instruments and examine each for evidence of reliability and validity.  After reviewing more than 1,500 citations, we report on a subset of the studies that have significantly contributed to evidence of reliability and validity, and highlight areas in need of improvement. We encourage educators to use the instrument(s) most appropriate to their purpose and population in light of the evidences reported in the literature and to continue to improve and develop these and other education assessments.

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Beyond transcribing headstones: Connecting a classic ecology lab on human demography with community-based learning

Kristine Grayson, Emily Boone, Jory Brinkerhoff, Malcolm Hill

Abstract: Cemeteries are excellent places to study human demography. For decades, introductory ecology labs have taken students to the local cemetery to collect data, learn about survivorship curves, and look for trends in our history. This lab is used widely because it is investigative, gets students outside, and can be done in all weather conditions. We extend the learning objectives for this lab by having students work and collect data at a forgotten and overgrown city cemetery. This location is the site of a large community effort to restore an important, but overlooked, segment of history in our city. Instead of transcribing headstone data from a manicured cemetery, students are engaging with issues in the local community and providing service at the same time as they collect data. The student learning goals include connecting ecological analysis of survivorship and age structure with community issues in heritage. Students were also able to make connections with plant community succession across the different stages of regrowth in the cemetery. As universities are focusing on engaging students with their local communities, our extension of this lab allows students to literally uncover history and make connections between ecological theory and human history. 

Also check out the visual story telling of Erin Hollaway Palmer and Brian Palmer: http://www.wokdocs.com/east-end-cemetery/

Read the article, "Learning from the Dead" for more information on this survivorship lab.

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Biotechnology and Mapping the Brain

Sabrina Robertson, Zachary A. Johnson, Natale R. Sciolino, Nicholas W. Plummer, Patricia Jensen

Abstract: The field of neuroscience is evolving at an unprecedented pace due to technological advances and recent large-scale, national and international initiatives such as the BRAIN initiative.  The BRAIN initiative, which was launched by the White House in 2013, rivals the Human Genome Project in scale and promises to propel neuroscience research forward through the development of innovative neurotechnologies.  This rapid evolution of modern neuroscience raises the important question of how to best train tomorrow’s neuroscientists.  Here we describe a novel research-based course, Mapping the Brain, with a unique approach to neuroscience education. The goal of the course is to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to emerging technologies in neuroscience. The half-semester course is offered through the North Carolina State University Biotechnology program and consists of weekly laboratory and lecture sessions.  In lecture, students compare traditional and cutting-edge neuroscience methodology, analyze primary literature, design hypothesis-based experiments, and discuss technological limitations of studying the brain.  In the laboratory portion of the course, students first explore basic neuronal signaling properties using cockroaches and the classroom-friendly “bioamplifier” from Backyard Brains© the SpikerBoxtm.  For the remainder of the course students pursue a hypothesis-driven, collaborative NIH research project in mice.  Using chemogenetic technology (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs-DREADDs) and a recombinase-based intersectional genetic strategy, students map norepinephrine neurons, their projections, and explore the effects of activating these neurons in vivo. Each cohort of Mapping the Brain students focuses on a unique aspect of the research project and builds on the work of students from previous semesters.  Here, we report our assessment of this neurotechnology and inquiry-based course.  Achievement of student learning outcomes and student knowledge of SfN’s core concepts and essential principals of neuroscience is evaluated based on assessment of student work and anonymous pre- and post-course surveys.  By engaging students in a neuroscience research project and exposing them to cutting edge technology, we hope to enhance student learning and inspire future innovation in the field. 

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robertson poster

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Case Studies for STEM: Integrating case based learning into bioengineering coursework

Hayley Lam, Shyam Patel

Abstract:

Case based learning (CBL) has been a classic method of teaching in medicine, business, and law schools.  How can we apply and evolve case studies in engineering classrooms beyond one-page insets in a textbook into an integral framework for teaching a class?  

This project is centered around our journey in developing and integrating new case studies for bioengineering undergraduate and graduate courses.  We have consolidated our work in the form of a webpage "Case Studies for STEM".  This website includes resources on (1) why case based learning is a useful and effective tool in teaching (2) describes how to integrate case based learning in the classroom, including guidelines for creating your own case studies, and (3)  links to case study databases from various disciplines. We hope to create a collection of resources for case study teaching in STEM, including examples of case studies, and other faculty experiences with case study teaching.

Visit the Case Studies for STEM website for more information.

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lam poster

 

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Comparing E.coli loads in two San Francisco surface water reservoirs

Irina Krylova

Abstract: Ever increasing numbers of dwellers challenge the sustainability of urban ecosystems. San Francisco is one such ecosystem that includes various kinds of surface water. We conducted a pilot assessment of E.coli loads in the water of Islais Creek that runs through the Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco, and in the San Francisco Bay water in the Warm Water Cove Park location. We found that Islais Creek had much higher E.coli loads as compared to the bay water. We hypothesize that higher E.coli loads in Islais creek can be explained by the fact that San Francisco has rather unique combined sewer/stormwater collection system. During the overflows, many of the City’s creeks (that are mostly contained in cement and run underground) become a part of the sewer system causing substantial E.coli loads in surface-exposed parts of the creeks to persist. 

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krylova poster

 

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Creating a Faculty Mentoring Network for Incorporating Digitized Natural History Collections Data into the Classroom

Molly Phillips

Abstract: In 2010, the United States National Science Foundation funded a research coordination network (RCN), Advancing Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs: AIM-UP! (AIMUP.unm.edu). That project produced a thriving national network of undergraduate educators, curators, collection managers, database managers, and scientists, that is identifying and developing novel ways to use natural history collections in undergraduate education. Natural history collections (NHCs) can serve a powerful role in addressing Vision and Change recommendations because museum specimens and associated digital data provide significant opportunities for authentic undergraduate research experiences, and provide a temporally deep and spatially extensive biodiversity resource to teach about the iterative process of science, data literacy, critical thinking, quantitative biology, communication in the sciences, and informatics. To extend that work and broaden the visibility and utility of AIM-UP resources a collaborative effort among AIM-UP! participants, the iDigBio Education and Outreach Working Group (idigbio.org), and the Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis community (QUBEShub.org) has begun. This collaborative working group’s goals are to extend and make existing AIM-UP! education modules more accessible and effective, create new collections-based modules and module development workflows, and to increase the adoption of these modules in undergraduate classrooms. 

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Development of a Biological Science Quantitative Reasoning Exam (BioSQuaRE)

Paul Overvoorde, Liz Stanhope, Laura Ziegler, Marcelo Vinces, Tabassum Haque, Laura Le, Greg Davis, Andy Zieffler, Peter Brodfuehrer, Marion Preest, Jason Belisky, Charles Umbanhowar, Jr.

Abstract: Multiple studies link insufficient mathematical preparation to the failure of beginning undergraduates to persist in STEM-related degrees. In addition, the increased use of quantitative methods in the biological sciences has prompted calls for introductory undergraduate biology courses to reflect this shift in order to ensure the persistence of students from a variety of backgrounds. This paper defines a tool to support such innovation.  We describe the development and piloting of a freely available, selected-response assessment instrument to measure the quantitative skills of undergraduate students within a biological context. The Biological Science Quantitative Reasoning Exam (BioSQuaRE) arose from the collaboration of individuals at eight institutions with the goal of addressing three distinct audiences.  Frist, the instrument communicates to entering life science students their domains of quantitative strength and weakness. Second, the output from the instrument provides data to faculty on what students do and do now know.  Finally, at a programmatic level, the BioSQuaRE makes explicit the quantitative skills that biology instructors consider important and provides a framework to assess curricula across departmental boundaries.  We describe the motivation behind this work, detail the process of developing the BioSQuaRE instrument, and provide qualitative and quantitative evidence (CTT, score reliability, and IRT analyses) for the validity of the inferences made from the BioSQuaRE.  Finally we discuss the potential uses of the BioSQuaRE in understanding the quantitative preparation of life science students and invite others to use this instrument at their own institutions. 

Learn more about the creation of the BioSQuaRE Assessment Instrument

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overvoorde poster

 

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Employing Weekly In-class Computer Activities to Provide Experience Analyzing Raw Data in a Freshman Level Science Course

Joseph Esquibel

Abstract: Data analysis/interpretation and critical thinking are core aspects of science literacy but are rarely a central focus in freshman level science courses. Due to their importance, I dedicated 1/3 of in-class time to these components through the use of computer lab activities to where students analyzed raw data relating to recent lectures. This poster documents the execution of these activities, the resulting student survey data and personal recommendations to provide an implementation guide in other courses. The course, entitled The Human Microbiome, focused on applied systems microbiology but also covered introductory microbiology and anatomy/physiology content. Students were provided with “raw” data, which can be easily generated in Excel using just a few built in functions. The format of a typical activity required students to first organize/visualize the data to reveal some trend, then to make some predictions about those trends (why does this happen, what would happen if.., etc.), and then to further analyze the data to test their hypothesis. Activities were conducted in Microsoft Excel to provide students with translatable experience with commonly used software. Responses from anonymous student surveys were positive, on a scale of 1 (Extremely Useful) to 5 (Not Useful), these activities were rated as 2.2 +/- 0.9 (Very Useful). 50% (8/16) of students found these data analysis activities the most beneficial portion of the class while 25% (4/16) indicated that the computer activities focused too much on data manipulation at the expense of connections to content, suggesting points for subsequent optimization. 

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esquibel poster

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Exploring variation in courtship song throughout the Drosophila nasuta clade

Wynn Meyer

Abstract: Courtship behavior in Drosophila is highly variable, and some types of behavior often display strong quantitative differentiation between closely related species. One such behavior is the “pulse song,” generated when males rapidly vibrate their wings against their abdomens as part of a stereotypical courtship ritual. The spacing of pulses, or “inter-pulse interval” differs between closely related species in several clades and is often important for species recognition. Previous research has led to methodology allowing the high-throughput measurement of pulse song parameters for Drosophila melanogaster; however, these methods are finely tuned for melanogaster-type pulse song and perform poorly in other, distantly related species. We here develop and implement a more general method for pulse song identification and parameter estimation and use it to characterize pulse song across more than a dozen species and sub-species within the Drosophila nasuta clade. The D. nasuta clade represents a recent radiation of species whose low levels of morphological and genetic divergence make them prime models for studying the genetic basis of reproductive isolation. We integrate our quantitative pulse song parameter estimation results with an estimation of phylogenetic relationships between species within the clade to assess how pulse song has evolved throughout the clade. Our results suggest that the new pulse identification method will be applicable to species with wide variation in pulse song. Moreover, we identify differences in pulse song between closely related species in the D. nasuta clade that show promise for mapping the genetic basis of these important behavioral traits.

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meyer poster

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Faculty Mentoring Networks: A model for facilitating teaching reform in quantitative biology education

Sam Donovan, Carrie Diaz-Eaton, Arietta Fleming-Davies, Stith Gower, Alison N. Hale, Gabriela Hamerlinck, Kristin Jenkins, M. Drew LaMar, Hayley Orndorf, DorothyBelle Poli, Bob Sheehy, Jeremy Wojdak

Abstract: The incorporation of quantitative skills and concepts into biology classrooms remains a major hurdle for biology education reform. Biology faculty often feel underprepared to teach quantitative reasoning, may not feel supported  to develop and implement change, and receive little or no credit for time devoted to reforming their teaching. We hypothesize that promoting the scholarly aspects of quantitative biology education can increase faculty participation and persistence in their reform efforts. Our model of the factors influencing faculty perceptions of their teaching scholarship has three primary components: 1) faculty must have sufficient knowledge of quantitative reasoning content and effective pedagogy; 2) they must exhibit high self-efficacy around their teaching; and, 3) they must self-identify as quantitative biology teachers. To test our proposed model, we have designed, implemented, and assessed faculty mentoring networks (FMNs), which are online communities that support faculty in their efforts to infuse quantitative skills into their existing courses. The structure of FMNs have emerged from the use of four design principles that connect the activities faculty engage to components of our change model. The faculty mentoring networks are designed to provide mentoring in quantitative biology from experienced peers and content experts, support a collaborative community working on shared problems and goals, engage faculty all the way through classroom implementation and encourage the public sharing of teaching projects. The design of FMNs will continue to be refined as more networks are developed, but early evidence points to their success as measured by faculty implementation of projects in their classrooms. 

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hale poster

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Incorporating  Bioinformatics and Genomics in Undergraduate Biology- New Avenue for Inquiry-Based Research

Alice Tarun

Abstract: The science of Genomics and Bioinformatics have revolutionized the field of biological research in the 21st century. The availability of bioinformatics online resources and genomic databases make it possible for teachers to incorporate coursework and activities that allow students to conduct research problems in genomics using bioinformatics tools. I recently developed a project based-learning course on genomics that combined lectures on the science and ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of genomics with hands-on lab activities on bioinformatics and DNA analysis. Using bioinformatics tools available at the Microbial Genome Annotation Network (http://www.geni-act.org/), the students gained foundational bioinformatics skills and experience first had the concepts of gene and genome structure by annotating genes from the bacterium Glaciecola psychrophila, a novel psychrophilic bacteria isolated from an arctic glacier. The students carried out a DNA Barcoding project to catalog and identify native trees growing on campus. Lastly, the students isolated their genomic DNA, submitted it for sequencing and analyzed the sequence to determine their maternal genetic ancestry. Future plans for the course are to incorporate analysis of the personal genome of students who are interested in having their genome analyzes and to provide a follow-up independent research course for students to do functional genomics. 

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tarun poster

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Integrating Case Studies in Teaching Developmental Math Courses

Qingxia Li, Xinyao Yang

Abstract: In this poster presentation, I will discuss the cases that I have used in teaching developmental math courses. This study uses a quasi-experimental non-equivalent control design comparing student's outcomes with and without implementing case studies in these courses. Data analysis shows that there is an increase in student's retention rate, success rate and pre-post tests.

li poster

 

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Maintenance and Development of a Cooperatively Taught On-line Course in Quantitative Biology

Joseph Battistelli

Abstract: 

"A current project I am working on is the revision of our Quantitative Biology course.  Quantitative Biology is a 200 level course and a mandatory part of the introductory curriculum for Biology Majors at Virginia Commonwealth University. It is an asynchronous on-line course cooperatively taught by a rotating group of faculty (6 faculty out of a group of 12), and incorporates aspects of scientific inquiry, statistical analysis, experimental design, and analytical review and critique. We teach 8 sections, each with 50 students, every semester. The number of sections offered each semester is planned to increase. Further, each section is expected to have unique content. 

The revision process includes developing question pools with more questions, and questions that push students to integrate ideas for a more challenging formative assessment experience; creating a resource database for instructors to facilitate easy set-up of the course in Blackboard, and tracking of question alterations; creating a resource center for students seeking additional information; and integrating content learned from the QUBES Workshop on Lowering the Activation Energy. In particular, I am interested in developing a group project that will require students to do a self- and peer-evaluation of their work as part of the curriculum. Developing a database for resource management is critical so that improvements can be propagated in future iterations of the course. An offshoot of this project is to set up a knowledge-retention tracking system to assess student performance in subsequent classes to determine if information from Quantitative Biology is effectively retained. "

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battistelli poster

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The Mermaid and the Globins: A Case Study of Hemoglobin Function and Regulation

Nathaniel Beres

Abstract: The function and regulation of hemoglobin is often a difficult topic for students to fully grasp.  This case study will explore the structure and function of myoglobin and hemoglobin as well as the regulation of hemoglobin in humans.  While the hemoglobin regulation of skin-divers is not different than other people, the topic of skin divers is explored through a professional mermaid working as a skin diver at an aquarium.  Allosteric modifiers of hemoglobin including: H+, CO2, and BPG will be examined. This case study provides an alternative method to deliver the topic of hemoglobin regulation from a traditional lecture. It is designed as separate components which can be used individually or as a set.

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Modeling for the Life Sciences: A New Course

Douglas Norton

Abstract: Quantitative ideas and techniques are making their way into the Life Sciences curriculum more than ever, from courses with the new name Biocalculus to mathematical or statistical modules incorporated into Biology courses at various levels. The goal of combining the mathematical and the biological as equal partners in a course such as Biocalculus for beginning college students is often frustrated by a large portion of the audience having learned Calculus in high school without the Biology intertwined. This can result in biological examples being relegated to interesting examples in other mathematics courses or mathematical topics being introduced as isolated black-box tools in specific biological contexts. We report here on a new course intended to bridge that divide by providing a survey in two dimensions: mathematical and biological. The intention is to see both mathematical tools used across a variety of biological contexts and biological questions that can lend themselves to using a variety of mathematical tools. Calculus of any flavor is the only mathematical prerequisite for this course intended for first- or second-year students in the Life Sciences.   

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norton poster

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Modeling Populations: Emphasizing the Importance of Mathematical Modeling in Undergraduate Ecology

Kristin McCully

Abstract: Both the biology research and education communities suggest that most undergraduate biology curricula do not provide students adequate training in the quantitative skills they need to obtain a deep understanding of biological phenomena and to contribute effectively to future scientific inquiry. To help address those needs, we present an inquiry-based module using ecology research literature and case studies to introduce structured population (matrix) models. Our teaching model starts with an interactive lecture introducing the concepts of these models with a conservation case study; students read published research papers that apply structured population models to specific populations and conservation questions, work through the specific models in groups on computers, and present the model with their own research question to the class.  

We found that, in an upper-division ecology course at a research university, students demonstrated that they accomplished the objectives of the module to be able to project how management actions may impact a population and to understand why models are important in ecology. In pre-module and post-module surveys, a final exam, and interviews, most students recognized how important mathematics is to ecology and conservation biology and commented that they enjoyed this module because they chose the organism to study, analyzed the model themselves using a computer program, and developed their own research question.

I am also happy to answer questions about UCLA’s new “Mathematics for Life Scientists” course series and my new research on how math ability and self-confidence affect persistence in life science majors.

Learn more about Kristin McCully and her work here.

mccully poster

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Network for Integrating Bioinformatics into Life Sciences Education

Mark Pauley

Abstract: Bioinformatics is becoming increasingly important in all facets of biological research. Yet many undergraduate students in life sciences lack training in this crucial discipline, hampering both their future career options as well as overall research productivity. The Network for Integrating Bioinformatics into Life Sciences Education (NIBLSE; “nibbles”), an NSF Research Coordination Network for Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) was formed in 2014 to address this issue. The long-term goal of NIBLSE is to establish bioinformatics as an essential component of undergraduate life sciences education by creating a permanent network of investigators to articulate a shared vision of the extent to which, and how best to, integrate bioinformatics into life sciences curricula. Specific objectives of the Network include identification of best practices for (1) preparation of students for bioinformatics instruction; (2) integration of bioinformatics into life science curriculum at all levels; (3) assessment of outcomes; and (4) preparation of faculty trained in life sciences to deliver curriculum in bioinformatics. We continue to grow the Network and invite those interested to join us.

Learn more about NIBLSE on their QUBESHub Group.

 

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NIMBioS Teams Up with Biology in a Box

Kelly Sturner, Lou Gross

Abstract: NIMBioS is helping bring mathematics education to life – to life sciences, that is. In partnering with UT-Knoxville's Biology in a Box K-12 education outreach program, NIMBioS is working collaboratively to integrate quantitative exercises into ten hands-on, inquiry-based life science units, with more under development. Many activities are now useful for teaching both applied mathematics and life science, and the connections between the two.  

Learn more about NIMBioS and Biology in a Box here.

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Open Educational Resources in non-majors Biology

Vedham Karpakakunjaram

Abstract: Textbook costs, in general, have increased to astronomical proportions, making it prohibitive for many students, especially, first generation college students and/or financially challenged students. Montgomery College has been actively promoting use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in some of the introductory level courses. As part of this initiative, we have been developing an OER-version of non-majors Biology course. General Biology (BIOL 101) is a four credit lecture/lab course intended for non-majors to meet the General Education science requirement. The currently adopted textbook costs about $160.00 and we (the authors) are working on a couple of strategies to bring down the textbook costs for the students, without compromising on the quality of the content. This is a work-in-progress and we will discuss some of our ideas and challenges in our implementation efforts.   

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Vedham's poster

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QUBES: Building a community to promote undergraduate quantitative biology education

QUBES User

Abstract: Quantitative skills have been recognized as core competencies for career success in biology, and many faculty are interested in teaching more quantitative biology in their courses. The QUBES project is designed to:

  • Improve communication among educators
  • Assist faculty in understanding and implementing novel content and teaching strategies in their unique classroom settings
  • Create an academic reward system that emphasizes teaching as well as research

To meet these goals, QUBES is building a diverse online community of educators interested in quantitative biology. 

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qubes poster

  

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Rethinking Faculty Scholarship:  Promoting Student-Centered Values in Biology Education

Melissa Haswell

Abstract: The focus of this case study was to identify how departmental culture influences scholarly identity and role prioritization of biology faculty members at a large, four-year university.  The biology department studied was in the process of going through a transformational change which included major curriculum revisions to incorporate Vision and Change (AAAS), as well as being in the midst of the construction of a state-of-the-art teaching and research bio-science building.  The development of shared leadership and cooperation, as well as service to undergraduate students in the form of faculty-student research projects were identified as the driving cultural factors that allowed for transformational changes to take place within the department.  This suggests that student-centered undergraduate education in the biological sciences can be used to create a department that emphasizes both high quality teaching and high quality research.  By reconfiguring faculty roles and redefining scholarship, biology departments can better meet the goal of providing state-of-the-art educational experiences for their students without sacrificing research productivity.   

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Synergistic Evolution Education: Want to Build, Implement and Assess a Problem Space Associated with an Integrative Evo-ED Case? (We Hope So!!)

Jim Smith, Peter White, Louise Mead; Mark Bergland, Karen Klyczek, Fred Bonilla; Pat Marsteller, Kristin Jenkins, Sam Donovan 

Abstract: Many teachers find evolution difficult topic to teach and many students find evolution a difficult topic to learn. Part of this difficulty stems from the complexity of the evolutionary process that requires knowledge spanning across biological subdisciplines to fully understand. In 2012, the Evo-Ed (http://www.evo-ed.org) project was launched, introducing resources to help educators teach evolution using integrative examples of trait evolution. Pre- and post-course assessments indicated that students who learned evolution in this context were more able to explain the molecular basis of mutation, describe how mutations lead to phenotypic change and make mechanistic links between genotypes and phenotypes. In this interactive BioQUEST workshop session, participants will learn about the integrative cases of trait evolution. By the end of the session, participants will be able to implement one or more integrative case in a classroom setting. Stemming from this session, we hope to identify faculty who are interested in helping to build new cases and/or build investigative problem spaces for one or more of the cases.

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Teaching students to argue

Joan Sharp

Abstract: "Although many general biology students think of science as a body of facts, there are many biological controversies of academic and general interest. Argumentation is a fundamental intellectual skill with pedagogical significance, and research has found correlations between students’ argumentation skills and their critical thinking process, which is central to higher education. Evidence shows that students often lack good argumentation skills, but these skills can be taught. 
        An argumentation visualization tool, the Dialectical Map (DM), facilitates the teaching of argumentation skills. The DM is a hybrid of argument maps and argument vee diagrams. Students create DMs by identifying and composing arguments and evidence in written assignments or in a computer-supported environment. They then draw an integrated conclusion by evaluating arguments, counterarguments, and supporting evidence in a visually hierarchical structure. 
        In implementations in university-level introductory and upper division biology classes, preliminary findings show improvements in students’ argumentation skills over time. Students’ improved argumentation skills showed transfer, with matching improvements in writing styles, organization of information, and reasoning skills. Students responded very positively to the DM. One student said, “It challenged us to learn how to argue effectively.” Another said, “The DM challenged my ability to argue a topic. I thought I had skills [in argumentation] before, but I don’t think I was actually very skilled.” "  

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