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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
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.
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)
Serotonin in the Pocket: Non-covalent interactions and neurotransmitter bindingLearning Objectives
- Students will design a binding site for the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular orientation on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular charge on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to better differentiate between hydrogen bond donors and acceptors.
- Students can use this knowledge to design binding sites for other metabolites.
Mice, Acorns, and Lyme Disease: a Case Study to Teach the Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases.Learning ObjectivesStudents 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.
Understanding Protein Domains: A Modular ApproachLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to compare protein sequences and identify conserved regions and putative domains.
- Students will be able to obtain, examine, and compare structural models of protein domains.
- Students will be able to interpret data on protein interactions (in vitro pull-down and in vitro and in vivo functional assays)
- Students will be able to propose experiments to test protein interactions.
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.
The Leaky Neuron: Understanding synaptic integration using an analogy involving leaky cupsLearning ObjectivesStudents will able to:
- compare and contrast spatial and temporal summation in terms of the number of presynaptic events and the timing of these events
- predict the relative contribution to reaching threshold and firing an action potential as a function of distance from the axon hillock
- predict how the frequency of incoming presynaptic action potentials effects the success of temporal summation of resultant postsynaptic potentials
Using QIIME to Interpret Environmental Microbial Communities in an Upper Level Metagenomics CourseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- list and perform the steps of sequence processing and taxonomic inference.
- interpret microbial community diversity from metagenomic sequence datasets.
- compare microbial diversity within and between samples or treatments.
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
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.
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.
Using Pathway Maps to Link Concepts, Peer Review, Primary Literature Searches and Data Assessment in Large Enrollment...Learning Objectives
- Define basic concepts and terminology of Ecosystem Ecology
- Link biological processes that affect each other
- Evaluate whether the link causes a positive, negative, or neutral effect
- Find primary literature
- Identify data that correctly supports or refutes an hypothesis
Cell Signaling Pathways - a Case Study ApproachLearning Objectives
- Use knowledge of positive and negative regulation of signaling pathways to predict the outcome of genetic modifications or pharmaceutical manipulation.
- From phenotypic data, predict whether a mutation is in a coding or a regulatory region of a gene involved in signaling.
- Use data, combined with knowledge of pathways, to make reasonable predictions about the genetic basis of altered signaling pathways.
- Interpret and use pathway diagrams.
- Synthesize information by applying prior knowledge on gene expression when considering congenital syndromes.
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.
Using Yeast to Make Scientists: A Six-Week Student-Driven Research Project for the Cell Biology LaboratoryLearning Objectives
- Learn about basic S. cerevisiae biology
- Use sterile technique
- Perform a yeast viability assay
- Use a spectrophotometer to measure growth of S. cerevisiae
- Perform a literature search
- Calculate concentrations of chemicals appropriate for S. cerevisiae
- Generate S. cerevisiae growth curves
- Troubleshoot experimental difficulties
- Perform statistical analysis
- Present findings to an audience
Teaching RNAseq at Undergraduate Institutions: A tutorial and R package from the Genome Consortium for Active TeachingLearning Objectives
- From raw RNAseq data, run a basic analysis culminating in a list of differentially expressed genes.
- Explain and evaluate statistical tests in RNAseq data. Specifically, given the output of a particular test, students should be able to interpret and explain the result.
- Use the Linux command line to complete specified objectives in an RNAseq workflow.
- Generate meaningful visualizations of results from new data in R.
- (In addition, each chapter of this lesson plan contains more specific learning objectives, such as “Students will demonstrate their ability to map reads to a reference.”)
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.
A clicker-based case study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogmaLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- explain the differences between silent (no change in the resulting amino acid sequence), missense (a change in the amino acid sequence), and nonsense (a change resulting in a premature stop codon) mutations.
- differentiate between how information is encoded during DNA replication, transcription, and translation.
- evaluate how different types of mutations (silent, missense, and nonsense) and the location of those mutations (intron, exon, and promoter) differentially affect the processes in the central dogma.
- predict the molecular (DNA size, mRNA length, mRNA abundance, and protein length) and/or phenotypic consequences of mutations.
Using Structured Decision Making to Explore Complex Environmental IssuesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the process, challenges, and benefits of structured decision making for natural resource management decisions.
- Explain and reflect on the role of science and scientists in structured decision making and how those roles interact and compare to the roles of other stakeholders.
- Assess scientific evidence for a given management or policy action to resolve an environmental issue.
Make It Stick: Teaching Gene Targeting with Ribbons and FastenersLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to design targeting constructs.
- Students will be able to predict changes to the gene locus after homologous recombination.
- Students will be able to design experiments to answer a biological question (e.g., "Design an experiment to test if the expression of gene X is necessary for limb development").
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.
A Kinesthetic Modeling Activity to Teach PCR FundamentalsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Draw or model the first three cycles of PCR, including the correct directionality (5’- and 3’-ends) of the primers and single-stranded PCR products.
- Diagram how single-stranded products from the first cycle of PCR are used as templates for subsequent PCR cycles.
- Demonstrate which parts of the primers will anneal to the original DNA template and subsequent PCR products.
- Model and demonstrate when the primer restriction enzyme sites are incorporated into double-stranded PCR products.
- Calculate the number of desired-length PCR products and long PCR products for each amplification cycle.
- Demonstrate how the incorporation of primer restriction enzyme sites into PCR products is a useful tool for subsequent cloning of the product into a vector.
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.
Exploration of the Human Genome by Investigation of Personalized SNPsLearning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will be able to:
- Effectively use the bioinformatics databases (SNPedia, the UCSC Genome Browser, and NCBI) to explore SNPs of interest within the human genome.
- Identify three health-related SNPs of personal interest and use the UCSC Genome Browser to define their precise chromosomal locations and determine whether they lie within a gene or are intergenic.
- Establish a list of all genome-wide association studies correlated with a particular health-related SNP.
- Predict which model organism would be most appropriate for conducting further research on a human disease.
Predicting and classifying effects of insertion and deletion mutations on protein coding regionsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- accurately predict effects of frameshift mutations in protein coding regions
- conduct statistical analysis to compare expected and observed values
- become familiar with accessing and using DNA sequence databases and analysis tools
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.
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.
Using a Sequential Interpretation of Data in Envelopes (SIDE) approach to identify a mystery TRP channelLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to analyze data from multiple experimental methodologies to determine the identity of their "mystery" TRP channel.
- Students will be able to interpret the results of individual experiments and from multiple experiments simultaneously to identify their "mystery" TRP channel.
- Students will be able to evaluate the advantages and limitations of experimental methodologies presented in this lesson.
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.
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.
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.
Plotting Cranial and Spinal Nerve Pathways in a Human Anatomy LabLearning Objectives
- Identify and describe the functions of cranial and spinal nerves
- Identify cranial and spinal nerve origination points and what structures they innervate
- Trace the routes that cranial and spinal nerves take throughout the body
Why do Some People Inherit a Predisposition to Cancer? A small group activity on cancer geneticsLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity, we expect students will be able to:
- Use family pedigrees and additional genetic information to determine inheritance patterns for hereditary forms of cancer
- Explain why a person with or without cancer can pass on a mutant allele to the next generation and how that impacts probability calculations
- Distinguish between proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
Tackling "Big Data" with Biology Undergrads: A Simple RNA-seq Data Analysis Tutorial Using GalaxyLearning Objectives
- Students will locate and download high-throughput sequence data and genome annotation files from publically available data repositories.
- Students will use Galaxy to create an automated computational workflow that performs sequence quality assessment, trimming, and mapping of RNA-seq data.
- Students will analyze and interpret the outputs of RNA-seq analysis programs.
- Students will identify a group of genes that is differentially expressed between treatment and control samples, and interpret the biological significance of this list of differentially expressed genes.