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Using Undergraduate Molecular Biology Labs to Discover Targets of miRNAs in HumansLearning Objectives
- Use biological databases to generate and compare lists of predicted miR targets, and obtain the mRNA sequence of their selected candidate gene
- Use bioinformatics tools to design and optimize primer sets for qPCR
An Introduction to Eukaryotic Genome Analysis in Non-model Species for Undergraduates: A tutorial from the Genome...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of the activity, students will be able to:
- Explain the steps involved in genome assembly, annotation, and variant detection to other students and instructors.
- Create meaningful visualizations of their data using the integrated genome viewer.
- Use the Linux command line and web-based tools to answer research questions.
- Produce annotated genomes and call variants from raw sequencing reads in non-model species.
Casting a Wide Net via Case Studies: Educating across the undergraduate to medical school continuum in the biological...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, the student should be able to:
- Consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of widespread use of whole genome sequencing and direct-to-consumer genetic testing.
- Explore the critical need to maintain privacy of individual genetic test results to protect patient interests.
- Dissect the nuances of reporting whole genome sequencing results.
- Recognize the economic ramifications of precision medicine strategies.
- Formulate a deeper understanding of the ethical dimensions of emerging genetic testing technologies.
Out of Your Seat and on Your Feet! An adaptable course-based research project in plant ecology for advanced studentsLearning ObjectivesStudents will:
- Articulate testable hypotheses. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper, in-class exercises)
- Analyze data to determine the level of support for articulated hypotheses. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Identify multiple species of plants in the field quickly and accurately. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Measure environmental variables and sample vegetation in the field. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Analyze soil samples using a variety of low-tech lab techniques. (Open labs after field trip)
- Use multiple statistical techniques to analyze data for patterns. (Labs 4-8, final presentation/paper)
- Interpret statistical analyses to distinguish between strong and weak interactions in a biological system. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Develop and present a conference-style presentation in a public forum. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
- Write a publication-ready research paper communicating findings and displaying data. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
The Case of the Missing Strawberries: RFLP analysisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the relationship of cells, chromosomes, and DNA.
- Isolate DNA from strawberries.
- Digest DNA with restriction enzymes.
- Perform gel electrophoresis.
- Design an experiment to compare DNAs by RFLP analysis.
- Predict results of RFLP analysis.
- Interpret results of RFLP analysis.
- Use appropriate safety procedures in the lab.
Cutthroat trout in Colorado: A case study connecting evolution and conservationLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- interpret figures such as maps, phylogenies, STRUCTURE plots, and networks for species delimitation
- identify sources of uncertainty and disagreement in real data sets
- propose research to address or remedy uncertainty
- construct an evidence-based argument for the management of a rare taxon
Bad Science: Exploring the unethical research behind a putative memory supplementLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- create criteria for evaluating information that is touted as scientific.
- apply those criteria to evaluate the claim that Prevagen® enhances memory.
- identify the misleading tactics used on the Prevagen® website and in their self-published reporting.
- decide whether to recommend taking Prevagen® and explain their decisions.
Investigating the Function of a Transport Protein: Where is ABCB6 Located in Human Cells?Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity students will be able to:
- describe the use of two common research techniques for studying proteins: SDS-PAGE and immunoblot analysis.
- determine a protein’s subcellular location based on results from: 1) immunoblotting after differential centrifugation, and 2) immunofluorescence microscopy.
- analyze protein localization data based on the limitations of differential centrifugation and immunofluorescence microscopy.
Follow the Sulfur: Using Yeast Mutants to Study a Metabolic PathwayLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- use spot plating techniques to compare the growth of yeast strains on solid culture media.
- predict the ability of specific met deletion strains to grow on media containing various sulfur sources.
- predict how mutations in specific genes will affect the concentrations of metabolites in the pathways involved in methionine biosynthesis.
Your Tax Dollars at Work: A mock grant writing experience centered on scientific process skillsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Propose a testable, novel question contributing to a biological field of study.
- Formulate a study rationale.
- Describe relevant background information on a topic using the primary literature.
- Choose appropriate scientific, mathematical, and statistical methods to analyze a research question.
- Determine the financial costs of a research project.
- Present a proposal for peer review and compose a constructive peer review.
- Collaborate as a member of a scientific team.
- Articulate the review criteria and process used in NSF-style proposal review.
Does it pose a threat? Investigating the impact of Bt corn on monarch butterfliesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply genetics concepts to a relevant case study of Bt corn and monarch butterflies
- Read figures and text from primary literature
- Identify claims presented in scientific studies
- Evaluate data presented in scientific studies
- Critically reason using data
- Evaluate the consequences of GM technology on non-target organisms
- Communicate scientific data orally
Priority Setting in Public Health: A lesson in ethics and hard choicesLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this unit, students will be able to:
- Define the central distinction between public health and medicine
- Apply objectives of public health and individual medical care in a particular situation to identify potential areas of conflict in priority setting
- Apply moral theories of utilitarianism and deontology to a particular situation to identify the course of action proponents of each theory would see as morally justified
- Identify the range of morally justifiable actions that might be available to a health professional in a particular setting
- Choose from among a range of possible actions in a particular health situation and articulate the ethical principles that would justify that choice.
In-class peer grading of daily quizzes increases feedback opportunitiesLearning ObjectivesEach of these objectives are illustrated with a succinct slide presentation or other supplemental material available ahead of class time through the course administration system. Learners found it particularly helpful to have video clips that remind them of mathematical manipulations available (in the above example objective c). Students understand that foundational objectives tend to be the focus of the quiz (objectives a-d) and that others will be given more time to work on together in class (objectives e-g), but I don't specify this exactly to reduce temptation that 'gamers' take a shortcut that would impact their group work negatively later on. However, the assignment for a focused graded group activity is posted as well, so it is clear what we are working towards; if desired individuals could prepare ahead of the class.
A first lesson in mathematical modeling for biologists: RocsLearning Objectives
- Systematically develop a functioning, discrete, single-species model of an exponentially-growing or -declining population.
- Use the model to recommend appropriate action for population management.
- Communicate model output and recommendations to non-expert audiences.
- Generate a collaborative work product that most individuals could not generate on their own, given time and resource constraints.
Infectious Chocolate Joy with a Side of Poissonian Statistics: An activity connecting life science students with subtle...Learning Objectives
- Students will define a Poisson distribution.
- Students will generate a data set on the probability of a T cell being infected with a virus(es).
- Students will predict the likelihood of one observing the mean value of viruses occurring.
- Students will evaluate the outcomes of a random process.
- Students will hypothesize whether a process is Poissonian and design a test for that hypothesis.
- Students will collect data and create a histogram from their data.
Promoting Climate Change Literacy for Non-majors: Implementation of an atmospheric carbon dioxide modeling activity as...Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to manipulate and produce data and graphs.
- Students will be able to design a simple mathematical model of atmospheric CO2 that can be used to make predictions.
- Students will be able to conduct simulations, analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions about atmospheric CO2 levels from their own computer generated simulated data.
Inexpensive Cell Migration Inquiry Lab using ZebrafishLearning ObjectivesStudents will:
- formulate a hypothesis and design an experiment with the proper controls.
- describe the steps involved in the zebrafish wounding assay (treating zebrafish embryos with drugs or control substances, wounding the embryo, staining the embryo, and counting neutrophils near the wound).
- summarize results into a figure and write a descriptive figure legend.
- perform appropriate statistical analysis.
- interpret results in a discussion that draws connections between the cytoskeleton and cell migration.
- put data into context by appropriately using information from journal articles in the introduction and discussion of a lab report.
Sex and gender: What does it mean to be female or male?Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to distinguish between sex and gender, and apply each term appropriately.
- Students will be able to compare and contrast levels of sexual determination.
- Students will be able to critique societal misrepresentations surrounding sex, gender, and gender identity.
Investigating Cell Signaling with Gene Expression DatasetsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Explain the hierarchical organization of signal transduction pathways.
- Explain the role of enzymes in signal propagation and amplification.
- Recognize the centrality of signaling pathways in cellular processes, such as metabolism, cell division, or cell motility.
- Rationalize the etiologic basis of disease in terms of deranged signaling pathways.
- Use software to analyze and interpret gene expression data.
- Use an appropriate statistical method for hypotheses testing.
- Produce reports that are written in scientific style.
Homologous chromosomes? Exploring human sex chromosomes, sex determination and sex reversal using bioinformatics...Learning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will:
- Practice navigating an online bioinformatics resource and identify evidence relevant to solving investigation questions
- Contrast the array of genes expected on homologous autosomal chromosomes pairs with the array of genes expected on sex chromosome pairs
- Use bioinformatics evidence to defend the definition of homologous chromosomes
- Define chromosomal sex and defend the definition using experimental data
- Investigate the genetic basis of human chromosomal sex determination
- Identify at least two genetic mutations can lead to sex reversal
Air Quality Data Mining: Mining the US EPA AirData website for student-led evaluation of air quality issuesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe various parameters of air quality that can negatively impact human health, list priority air pollutants, and interpret the EPA Air Quality Index as it relates to human health.
- Identify an air quality problem that varies on spatial and/or temporal scales that can be addressed using publicly available U.S. EPA air data.
- Collect appropriate U.S. EPA Airdata information needed to answer that/those questions, using the U.S. EPA Airdata website data mining tools.
- Analyze the data as needed to address or answer their question(s).
- Interpret data and draw conclusions regarding air quality levels and/or impacts on human and public health.
- Communicate results in the form of a scientific paper.
Teaching epidemiology and principles of infectious disease using popular media and the case of Typhoid MaryLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the reservoirs of infection in humans.
- Distinguish portals of entry and exit.
- Describe how each of the following contributes to bacterial virulence: adhesins, extracellular enzymes, toxins, and antiphagocytic factors.
- Define and distinguish etiology and epidemiology.
- Describe the five typical stages of infectious disease and depict the stages in graphical form.
- Contrast contact, vehicle and vector transmission, biological and mechanical vectors and identify the mode of transmission in a given scenario.
- Differentiate endemic, sporadic, epidemic, and pandemic disease.
- Distinguish descriptive, analytical, and experimental epidemiology.
- Compare and contrast social, economic, and cultural factors impacting health care in the early 1900s and today.
Coevolution or not? Crossbills, squirrels and pineconesLearning Objectives
- Define coevolution.
- Identify types of evidence that would help determine whether two species are currently in a coevolutionary relationship.
- Interpret graphs.
- Evaluate evidence about whether two species are coevolving and use evidence to make a scientific argument.
- Describe what evidence of a coevolutionary relationship might look like.
- Distinguish between coadaptation and coevolution.
Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: Real-world applicationsLearning ObjectivesAfter completion of the lesson students will be able to:
- Describe the differences between female and male meiosis.
- Interpret graphical data to make decisions relevant to medical practices.
- Develop a hypothesis that explains the difference in incidence of aneuploidy in gametes between males and females.
Using computational molecular modeling software to demonstrate how DNA mutations cause phenotypesLearning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will:
- Practice basic molecular biology laboratory skills such as DNA isolation, PCR, and gel electrophoresis.
- Gather and analyze quantitative and qualitative scientific data and present it in figures.
- Use bioinformatics to analyze DNA sequences and obtain protein sequences for molecular modeling.
- Make and analyze three-dimensional (3-D) protein models using molecular modeling software.
- Write a laboratory report using the collected data to explain how mutations in the DNA cause changes in protein structure/function which lead to mutant phenotypes.
Building a Model of Tumorigenesis: A small group activity for a cancer biology/cell biology courseLearning ObjectivesAt the end of the activity, students will be able to:
- Analyze data from a retrospective clinical study uncovering genetic alterations in colorectal cancer.
- Draw conclusions about human tumorigenesis using data from a retrospective clinical study.
- Present scientific data in an appropriate and accurate way.
- Discuss why modeling is an important practice of science.
- Create a simple model of the genetic changes associated with a particular human cancer.
Sequence Similarity: An inquiry based and "under the hood" approach for incorporating molecular sequence...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Define similarity in a non-biological and biological sense when provided with two strings of letters.
- Quantify the similarity between two gene/protein sequences.
- Explain how a substitution matrix is used to quantify similarity.
- Calculate amino acid similarity scores using a scoring matrix.
- Demonstrate how to access genomic data (e.g., from NCBI nucleotide and protein databases).
- Demonstrate how to use bioinformatics tools to analyze genomic data (e.g., BLASTP), explain a simplified BLAST search algorithm including how similarity is used to perform a BLAST search, and how to evaluate the results of a BLAST search.
- Create a nearest-neighbor distance matrix.
- Create a multiple sequence alignment using a nearest-neighbor distance matrix and a phylogram based on similarity of amino acid sequences.
- Use appropriate bioinformatics sequence alignment tools to investigate a biological question.
Discovering Prokaryotic Gene Regulation by Building and Investigating a Computational Model of the lac OperonLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- model how the components of the lac operon contribute to gene regulation and expression.
- generate and test predictions using computational modeling and simulations.
- interpret and record graphs displaying simulation results.
- relate simulation results to cellular events.
- describe how changes in environmental glucose and lactose levels impact regulation of the lac operon.
- predict, test, and explain how mutations in specific elements in the lac operon affect their protein product and other elements within the operon.
Learning to Pipet Correctly by Pipetting Incorrectly?Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to use analytical balances and micropipettes.
- Students will be able to calculate averages and standard deviations.
- Students will be able to use t-tests to compare two independent samples.
- Students will be able to justify accepting or rejecting a null hypothesis based on an interpretation of p-values.
- Students will learn to use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel and/or Google Sheets
- Students will be able to explain how pipetting incorrectly leads to errors.
CURE-all: Large Scale Implementation of Authentic DNA Barcoding Research into First-Year Biology CurriculumLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to: Week 1-4: Fundamentals of Science and Biology
- List the major processes involved in scientific discovery
- List the different types of scientific studies and which types can establish causation
- Design experiments with appropriate controls
- Create and evaluate phylogenetic trees
- Define taxonomy and phylogeny and explain their relationship to each other
- Explain DNA sequence divergence and how it applies to evolutionary relationships and DNA barcoding
- Define and measure biodiversity and explain its importance
- Catalog organisms using the morphospecies concept
- Geographically map organisms using smartphones and an online mapping program
- Calculate metrics of species diversity using spreadsheet software
- Use spreadsheet software to quantify and graph biodiversity at forest edges vs. interiors
- Write a formal lab report
- Extract, amplify, visualize and sequence DNA using standard molecular techniques (PCR, gel electrophoresis, Sanger sequencing)
- Explain how DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and Sanger sequencing work at the molecular level
- Trim and assemble raw DNA sequence data
- Taxonomically identify DNA sequences isolated from unknown organisms using BLAST
- Visualize sequence data relationships using sequence alignments and gene-based phylogenetic trees
- Map and report data in a publicly available online database
- Share data in a formal scientific poster
Using Gamification to Teach Undergraduate Students about Scientific WritingLearning ObjectivesTopics within Playon Words are grouped into “mini-games.” The Learning Objectives for each mini-game are as follows: Sentence Sensei
- Identify the best sentence variant from a list of options
- Identify and eliminate needless words
- Identify where and when to use different types of punctuation marks
- Identify and correct common grammar mistakes
- Organize sentences in a logical order
- Describe the components of different sections of a scientific paper
- Identify the section of a scientific paper where a given sentence belongs
- Eliminate sentences which do not belong in a given writing sample
- Classify statements as scientific or non-scientific
- Identify which statements support a particular hypothesis or position
- Classify provided sentences (e.g. hypotheses vs. predictions, problems vs. experiments, results vs. discussion)
- Compare and contrast different types (e.g. primary literature, review articles, popular literature etc.) and sources (PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar etc.) of scientific information
- Identify locations in texts where citations are needed
- Identify citations and/or references that are incorrect or missing key information
- Identify information that does not belong in the reference list (e.g. vendor information)
Using Synthetic Biology and pClone Red for Authentic Research on Promoter Function: Genetics (analyzing mutant...Learning Objectives
- Describe how cells can produce proteins at the right time and correct amount.
- Diagram a bacterial promoter with −35 and −10 elements and the transcription start site.
- Describe how mutational analysis can be used to study promoter sequence requirements.
- Develop a promoter mutation hypothesis and design an experiment to test it.
- Successfully and safely manipulate DNA and Escherichia coli for ligation and transformation experiments.
- Design an experiment to verify a mutated promoter has been cloned into a destination vector.
- Design an experiment to measure the strength of a promoter.
- Analyze data showing reporter protein produced and use the data to assess promoter strength.
- Define type IIs restriction enzymes.
- Distinguish between type II and type IIs restriction enzymes.
- Explain how Golden Gate Assembly (GGA) works.
- Measure the relative strength of a promoter compared to a standard promoter.
Evaluating the Quick Fix: Weight Loss Drugs and Cellular RespirationLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to explain how the energy from sugars is transformed into ATP via cellular respiration.
- Students will be able to predict an outcome if there is a perturbation in the cellular respiration pathway.
- Students will be able to state and evaluate a hypothesis.
- Students will be able to interpret data from a graph, and use that data to make inferences about the action of a drug.
Using Place-Based Economically Relevant Organisms to Improve Student Understanding of the Roles of Carbon Dioxide,...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Describe the roles of light energy and carbon dioxide in photosynthetic organisms.
- Identify the effect of nutrients on the growth of photosynthetic organisms.
- Describe global cycles in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and how they relate to photosynthetic organisms.