Our undergraduate research laboratory course BioBM/BioGD 399 Research Practicum in Molecular and Cell Biology initiated with a pilot in Spring 2008. Ten undergraduate students enrolled, two sophomores, six juniors and two seniors. The two seniors have graduated and placed in research assistant positions at Albert Einstein and Boston University. Four of the other students have placed in research laboratories on campus.
Two of the undergraduates have since joined Bik Tye's lab for independent research and are now working on continuing research projects for the Honors Theses. In addition, the work completed over the course of the semester in Spring 2008 and continued by the two undergraduate students in their independent research is now part of a manuscript in preparation.
In addition to the benefit to the undergraduate students, the postdoctoral fellow who was involved also saw many benefits. He presented our project at the Yeast Meeting and discussed the undergraduate teaching lab. A renowned professor (David Botsein) approached him after the talk and encouraged him to apply for the prestigious Lewis-Sigler Fellowship Program, due at least in part to his teaching experience.
The lab space has been expanded to accommodate additional students (up to 24) to give more students a research opportunity. I am also recruiting other labs, projects and personnel for Spring 2009 offering. Currently Jeff Pleiss and Tim Huffaker are working with me to develop two new projects to expose undergraduates to high throughput yeast genetic techniques.
impact statement issue
At Cornell, there are approximately 1400 undergraduate Biology majors at Cornell and only a fraction, roughly 300 students, find a research opportunity during their time here on campus. This project was initiated to provide more students the much needed opportunity to experience how science is done through the practice of experimental inquiry. An undergraduate research-based course with a collaborative and interactive group setting will serve to forge closer ties between more Cornell undergraduates and faculty through cutting edge research projects. This will create a natural segue for students to find faculty labs to conduct research and potentially participate in undergraduate honors projects and theses. This project will also further integrate inquiry-based learning into the curriculum.
impact statement response
New Course Proposal Forms for BioBM/BioGD 399 were submitted and approved by the Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biology, Biology Student and CALS Curriculum Committees. BioBM/BioGD 399 was launched in Spring 2008. Course development and recruitment of initial faculty projects and students was a huge success. Our initial offering had 10 students (maximum allowable in the current lab space). We worked on a project from Bik Tye's lab in MBG in collaboration with Postdoctoral Fellow Ivan Liachko of the Tye lab.
impact statement summary
My goal is to teach students the scientific method by hands-on experimentation. My objectives are to develop a new research-based laboratory course to give students the opportunity to experience how science is done through the practice of experimental inquiry. In my new lab course, students will be immersed in a dynamic project-based research environment by participating in experimental projects directly linked with ongoing faculty research covering a broad range of methodologies in molecular and cellular biology, bioinformatics and genomics.