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Science Process Skills
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.
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
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.
Dynamic Daphnia: An inquiry-based research experience in ecology that teaches the scientific process to first-year...Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Construct written predictions about 1 factor experiments.
- Interpret simple (2 variables) figures.
- Construct simple (2 variables) figures from data.
- Design simple 1 factor experiments with appropriate controls.
- Demonstrate proper use of standard laboratory items, including a two-stop pipette, stereomicroscope, and laboratory notebook.
- Calculate means and standard deviations.
- Given some scaffolding (instructions), select the correct statistical test for a data set, be able to run a t-test, ANOVA, chi-squared test, and linear regression in Microsoft Excel, and be able to correctly interpret their results.
- Construct and present a scientific poster.
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.
Teaching students to read, interpret, and write about scientific research: A press release assignment in a large, lower...Learning ObjectivesStudents will:
- interpret the main conclusions and their supporting evidence in a primary research article.
- concisely communicate the significance of scientific findings to an educated nonspecialist audience.
- identify the components of a primary research article and the components of the "inverted pyramid" press release structure.
- identify the central figure in a primary research paper and describe its key finding.
- demonstrate an understanding of intellectual property by giving appropriate credit to other people's original work.
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)
CRISPR/Cas9 in yeast: a multi-week laboratory exercise for undergraduate studentsLearning ObjectivesWeek 1: CRISPR design
- Locate the coding sequence, flanking sequence, protein product, and characteristics of a given gene from the Saccharomyces Genome Database (https://www.yeastgenome.org/).
- Design and defend the design of guide RNA and single stranded template for DNA repair in CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing studies to generate Saccharomyces cerevisiae auxotrophic mutants.
- Describe the qualities of the vector, pML104, that allow replication and selection in bacteria and yeast as well as allow expression of necessary factors in CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, including Cas9 and sgRNA.
- Describe the rationale of and perform procedures necessary for cloning a small cassette (i.e., sgRNA gene) into a vector (i.e., pML104) including; restriction digest, annealing of DNA strands, removal of 5’ phosphates, ligation, and transformation.
- Recognize and design appropriate controls for cloning procedures such as ligation and transformation.
- Describe the method of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), including the rationale for essential components of a reaction mixture and thermal-cycling conditions.
- Locate the binding sites of and design primers for PCR, then report the expected size of the amplification product.
- Describe and perform isolation of plasmid DNA from E. coli.
- Describe the rationale for and perform procedures to transform yeast, including the essential components of a transformation mixture and conditions necessary for transformation.
- Describe the basic conditions required for cultivating yeast.
- Describe the rationale for and perform agarose gel electrophoresis of a given size of DNA.
- Analyze DNA separated by agarose gel electrophoresis, including size estimation.
- Recognize and describe the qualities of a template for DNA repair that allows efficient DNA repair.
- Design an experiment to determine auxotrophic phenotypes.
- Predict the outcome of multi-step experiments.
- Recognize and describe conditions necessary for growth of E. coli and S. cerevisiae.
- Qualitatively and quantitatively analyze scientific data from scientific experiments, including bacterial and yeast transformation, agarose gel electrophoresis, extraction of plasmid DNA from bacteria, PCR, and auxotroph phenotypic analysis.
- Communicate science to peers through maintenance of a laboratory notebook, verbal communication with group members, and writing of a formal laboratory report written in a format acceptable for journal publication.
- Troubleshoot scientific protocols by identifying procedures that are prone to error, comparing recommended protocols to actual procedure, and using positive and negative controls to narrow the location of a potential error.
- Communicate specific potential or actual uses of CRISPR/Cas9 in science and/or medicine.
- Use various bioinformatics approaches to analyze macromolecular primary sequence and structure.
- Illustrate how DNA is replicated and genes are transmitted from one generation to the next in multiple types of organisms including bacteria, eukaryotes, viruses, and retroviruses.
- Define what a genome consists of and how the information in various genes and other sequence classes within each genome are used to store and express genetic information.
- Explain the meaning of ploidy (haploid, diploid, aneuploid etc.) and how it relates to the number of homologues of each chromosome.
- Predict the effects of mutations on the activity, structure, or stability of a protein and design appropriate experiments to assess the effects of mutations.
- Predict the growth behavior of microbes based on their growth conditions, e.g., temperature, available nutrient, aeration level, etc.
- Discuss the benefits of specific tools of modern biotechnology that are derived from naturally occurring microbes (e.g. cloning vectors, restriction enzymes, Taq polymerase, etc.)
- Accurately prepare and use reagents and perform experiments.
- When presented with an observation, develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis.
- When provided with a hypothesis, identify the appropriate experimental observations and controllable variables.
A new approach to course-based research using a hermit crab-hydrozoan symbiosisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- define different types of symbiotic interactions, with specific examples.
- summarize and critically evaluate contemporary primary literature relevant to ecological symbioses, in particular that between hermit crabs and Hydractinia spp.
- articulate a question, based on observations of a natural phenomenon (in this example, the hermit crab-Hydractinia interaction).
- articulate a testable hypothesis, based on their own observations and read of the literature.
- design appropriate experimental or observational studies to address their hypotheses.
- collect and interpret data in light of their hypotheses.
- problem-solve and troubleshoot issues that arise during their experiment.
- communicate scientific results, both orally and in written form.