Model Programs: Course-Based Research Experiences (CREs)

Throughout its history, HHMI has supported innovation in science education with a focus on providing undergraduate research experiences.  Recent innovation in the format of these experiences has dramatically improved their reach and impact for undergraduates, especially for freshmen and sophomores. Several models have been developed that provide similar benefits to students as traditional, apprentice-based research (in self-efficacy, skills, and persistence) but can be offered at scale with increased efficiency.

Genomics Education Partnership (GEP): Some institutions have re-designed and/or expanded introductory science laboratory courses to immerse undergraduates in authentic research experiences. The courses provide project-based and discovery-based studies or modules where the students’ research results benefit faculty members’ research. One model program, developed by HHMI Professor Sarah Elgin at Washington University in St. Louis, the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), has demonstrated that a large-scale bioinformatics project can advance research, provide benefits to students, and be implemented across a wide variety of institutions.

Freshman Research Initiative (FRI): These institutions are providing first-year students the opportunity to initiate and engage in authentic research experiences. Students work in research streams under the guidance of their faculty and graduate student mentors in teams, and individual students can have their own independent projects with the potential to publish their work. The FRI began at UT Austin and is being adapted by a number of other schools.

Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES): SEA advances science education on a national scale by supporting faculty members in implementing course-based research experiences at their institutions. This practice establishes cohorts of students, educators, and institutions that are connected and have the ability to collaborate nationally. The current project supported by the SEA is the PHAGES project, built around a national experiment in bacteriophage genomics developed by HHMI Professor Graham Hatfull. Students isolate, name, sequence, and analyze newly-discovered mycobacteriophages.

Bacteriophage Mach 78