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  • Image of tick from US Department of Agriculture_ARS photo by Scott Bauer

    Mice, Acorns, and Lyme Disease: a Case Study to Teach the Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Learning Objectives
    Students will be able to...
    • outline the life cycle of ticks and explain the transmission cycle of Lyme disease.
    • describe factors that make mice a competent reservoir for Borrelia burgdorferi.
    • analyze and interpret line and bar graphs of data on the effects of changes to ecological communities on the risk of human exposure to Lyme disease.
    • explain how the incidence of Lyme disease is determined by interactions between bacteria, animals, humans and the environment.
    • predict how changes in the ecosystem affect Borrelia burgdorferi transmission.
    • explain how human activities affect biodiversity and the consequences of those actions on disease outbreaks.
  • blind cave fish
  • A schematic of the relationship between the different types of pasta or beans and the respective gut and environmental bacteria

    The impact of diet and antibiotics on the gut microbiome

    Learning Objectives
    After completing the exercise, students will be able to:
    • Identify several of the nine phyla that contribute to the gut microbiome and name the two predominant ones;
    • Describe how diet impacts the gut microbiome and compare the composition of the gut microbiome between different diets;
    • Describe how antibiotic treatment impacts the gut microbiome and understand how this leads to infection, for example by Clostridium difficile;
    • Trace the response to a change in diet, starting with i) changes in the composition of the microbiome, followed by ii) changes in the bacterial metabolic pathways and the respective excreted metabolic products, resulting in iii) a molecular response in the host intestinal cells, and eventually iv) resulting in human disease;
    • Improve their ability to read scientific literature;
    • Express themselves orally and in writing;
    • Develop team working skill
  • Possible implementations of a short research module

    A Short Laboratory Module to Help Infuse Metacognition during an Introductory Course-based Research Experience

    Learning Objectives
    • Students will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data.
    • Students will be able to employ prior knowledge in formulating a biological research question or hypothesis.
    • Students will be able to distinguish a research question from a testable hypothesis.
    • Students will recognize that the following are essential elements in experimental design: identifying gaps in prior knowledge, picking an appropriate approach (ex. experimental tools and controls) for testing a hypothesis, and reproducibility and repeatability.
    • Students will be able to identify appropriate experimental tools, approaches and controls to use in testing a hypothesis.
    • Students will be able to accurately explain why an experimental approach they have selected is a good choice for testing a particular hypothesis.
    • Students will be able to discuss whether experimental outcomes support or fail to support a particular hypothesis, and in the case of the latter, discuss possible reasons why.
  • Hydrozoan polyps on a hermit-crab shell (photo by Tiffany Galush)

    A new approach to course-based research using a hermit crab-hydrozoan symbiosis

    Learning Objectives
    Students 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.