Home Programs Awards 52008139

Engaging students early in their undergraduate careers is critical for effective synthesis of information, development of reasoning, understanding core concepts, and mastering skills needed for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. An emphasis on active learning reinforces substantive facts, the inquiry process, and relationships between science and society. Central to this approach is the idea that context and application of knowledge are more important than information alone. Because meeting future global challenges will require people from multiple unrelated specialties with abilities to synthesize, leverage, and communicate knowledge, STEM curriculum must help students connect the dots. Providing real-world context for scientific concepts helps students frame the material of introductory courses, builds a broad view of science, and demonstrates the value of collaboration. This project will 1) establish the Biotech Explorers Pathway (BEP) and continue the use of undergraduate research teams in 2) research projects and 3) a research-oriented protein chemistry lab course. The major objective of this project is to establish a new 2-year academic program (i.e., BEP) at WUSTL that builds connections between science, business, technology, and engineering at the start of undergraduate studies, highlights how discoveries lead to applications, and engages curiosity through team-based inquiry that guides students from examples toward idea generation and project development. The BEP will provide starting students in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Business with experiences in intellectual entrepreneurship that foster learning scientific concepts, an understanding of the breadth and depth of biotech, and teamwork to generate, develop, and evaluate project ideas. Through collaboration, the BEP will cultivate students who apply the scientific process and understand the impact of science on society as they build careers aimed at solving global challenges. The second goal of this proposal is to support the use of undergraduate teams in the Jez lab and an upper-level protein chemistry lab course (Bio4522). Research teams help advanced students make the transition from mentee to mentor by reinforcing scientific knowledge, providing peer teaching experiences, and developing interpersonal skills necessary for successful careers in academic science, biotech, medicine, and other pursuits. This tiered mentor approach also maintains project continuity that links short-term experiences together. Within the teaching lab, teams of students focused on semester-long research problems leads to generation of experimental results as a platform for learning new methods.

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Washington University in St. Louis
Department of Biology

Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899

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