Antimicrobials, once a powerful weapon in controlling disease have become less effective due to rise of drug resistant pathogens. We used the problem of drug resistance in microbes, to teach concepts in evolution and data science skills in an upper level Biology elective at Spelman College. Students were provided a basic introduction to evolution of antibiotic resistance. After that, they conducted an independent investigation of the problem of antibiotic resistance using publicly available datasets on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and the usage of antibiotics. Students were able to demonstrate effective use existing data to test evolutionary hypotheses; describe the problem of antibiotic resistance from a general evolutionary perspective; collect, clean and manipulate data from publicly available sources; become familiar with basic programming and troubleshooting; construct graphs in R; and use basic statistics to analyze data and interpret the results. Student investigations, culminated in a presentation to the class and a paper. To enrich student learning we invited several experts working on different aspects of antibiotic resistance as guest lecturers to class. Thus, students were able to interact with experts in the field. We administered two surveys to assess student enthusiasm for the data science project on evolution of drug resistance at the end of the semester. Surveys indicate that students appreciated the experience of learning to conduct an independent investigation and engaging with expert speakers.
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