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Biochemistry Q Course Modules
These undergraduate labs—which are part of a series of quantitative biology (“Q”) modules developed by the University of California, Davis—are designed to familiarize students with the use of computer models to answer biochemical questions. The topics include acid-base chemistry, Gibbs free energy, Michaelis-Menten kinetics, enzyme inhibition, hemoglobin, and the Bohr effect. The developers say that, ideally, these labs would be taught as a supplement to a concurrent lecture course; some modules might also be useful in a general chemistry or enzyme kinetics course. The math skills used include 2-D and 3-D graphing, algebra, logarithms, and numerical solutions to systems of equations; students are assumed to have completed one year of undergraduate calculus. Each module has one or more background mini-modules associated with it, with details found on the individual module pages. The module documents are written in Mathcad, a general purpose mathematical software package, so students must have access to Mathcad version 13 or higher. With the exception of "Introduction to Mathcad,” which is a module designed to build Mathcad skills and which should be considered a prerequisite, the modules can operate independently of one another. Faculty members can change the order to accommodate teaching preferences and can use teaching assistants to run and grade the labs.
Program Director: Kenneth C. Burtis, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1989, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010
Summary: The University of California-Davis is a public research university in Davis, California. Its HHMI-funded educational initiatives include:
- A Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program that supports intense preparatory and supplemental academic instruction in chemistry, calculus, and biology and includes academic and personal advising and practical experience in research laboratories. Its long-term goal is to increase the participation of disadvantaged and underrepresented students in careers in biomedical research (particularly careers in academia).
- A new program called FASTRAC—FAcilitating STudent Research ACcess—that will identify up to 20 community college students each year who are interested in working in a research lab after they transfer to UC Davis. The students will participate in an intensive lab experience during winter break of their last year in community college. Once at the university, selected FASTRAC students will work in biology labs for 10 weeks in the summer and will participate in the institution’s Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program.
- The design and implementation of a set of “Q” (for quantitative) lab courses and modules designed to increase the use of modeling and other quantitative concepts in biology and biochemistry courses, and the introduction of an interdisciplinary minor in quantitative biology and bioinformatics.
- A faculty development program that emphasizes “active learning” and “scientific teaching” approaches to teaching in the biological sciences. The strategies include the participation of UC Davis faculty in the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology, the provision of teacher start-up funds, seminars by teacher/scholars who excel in both teaching and research, and support for cooperative efforts between biology and physics faculty already deeply involved in active learning approaches.