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The Chemistry and Biology of Everyday Life
This one-semester college course is offered up to four times for participating students, starting with freshmen year and ending with senior year. The course, from HHMI Professor Yi Lu, Ph.D., gives students the freedom to investigate a topic of their own choosing and helps them identify and refine their scientific interests and continue to explore those interests within the university setting. The course mimics a science research group with peer mentoring at its core. First-year students participate in weekly lecture and discussion sessions on topics in biochemistry (such as the chemistry and biology of food, household chemistry, chemical toxicology, pharmaceutical drugs, and nutrition) and scientific writing. Both new and returning students do activities, take laboratory tours and field trips, hear from guest speakers, and attend scientific meetings. Students also meet in small groups once a week; returning students supervise each groupís activities. The small groups feature a journal club that requires students to choose an article and prepare a PowerPoint summary three times during the semester. At semesterís end, students investigate a controversial issue in society; they make decisions and develop policies and practices based on scientific literature, especially primary sources. The course website contains slides of the lecture topics, as well as handouts, assignments, information on special topics, and other course materials. An article in Science that describes the course and offers assessment data is also available online.
HHMI Professor: Yi Lu, Ph.D.
Award Years: 2002
Summary: Yi Lu, Ph.D., an HHMI professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2002-2006, investigates the role of metal ions, both beneficial and toxic, in biological systems. His HHMI-funded educational initiative involved:
- The development of an integrated, inquiry-based course for undergraduate students at all levels, from freshmen to seniors, on the role of chemistry in life and society. The one-semester course, open to both first-year and returning students, allows students to choose a science topic that interests them and gives them the tools to investigate the topic using scientific literature, undergraduate research experiences, and peer mentoring. The course, which has been offered annually since 2003, was designed to help recruit, motivate, and retain minority students as science majors and to attract other students who might not otherwise choose science courses or a science major.