CURE Collection

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Results 1 - 10 of 40 matches

Population & Community Ecology
Cascade Sorte, University of California-Irvine
Students in a Population and Community Ecology class participate in coastal marine research focused on understanding factors determining population sizes and community interactions, particularly in the context of species that appear to be shifting their ranges with climate change. Students participate in all aspects of the research from making observations and collecting data in the field to defining questions, stating hypothesis, designing and completing statistical analysis, and interpreting and presenting results. The outcomes are a research proposal, research paper, and poster presentation. All are intended to be at a level appropriate for use as a writing sample or presentation at undergraduate conferences. Results are incorporated into the ongoing research project led by the course instructor and graduate student teaching assistant.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate, Ecosystems, Environmental Science, Oceans and Coastal Resources, Life Sciences:Ecology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Field Research, Basic Research, Applied Research
State: California
Target Audience: Upper Division, Non-major, Major
CURE Duration: A full term
On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Analyzing datasets in ecology and evolution to teach the nature and process of science
Rebecca Price, University of Washington-Bothell Campus
This quarter-long project forms the basis of a third-year course for majors and nonmajors at the University of Washington, Bothell called Science Methods and Practice. Students use databases to identify novel research questions, and extract data to test their hypotheses. They frame the question with primary literature, address the questions with inferential statistics, and discuss the results with more primary literature. The product is a scientific paper; each step of the process is scaffolded and evaluated. Given time limitations, we avoid devoting time to data collection; instead, we sharpen students' ability to make sense of a large body of quantitative data, a situation they may rarely have encountered. We treat statistics with a strictly conceptual, pragmatic, and abbreviated approach; i.e., we ask students to know which basic test to choose to assess a linear relationship vs. a difference between two means. We stress the need for a normal distribution in order to use these tests, and how to interpret the results; we leave the rest for stats courses, and we do not teach the mathematics. This approach proves beneficial even to those who have already had a statistics course, because it is often the first time they make decisions about applying statistics to their own research questions. We incorporate peer review and collaborative work throughout the quarter. We form collaborative groups around the research questions they ask, enabling them to share primary literature they find, and preparing them well to review each other's writing. We encourage them to cite each other's work. They write formal peer reviews of each other's papers, and they submit their final paper with a letter-to-the-editor highlighting how their research has addressed previous feedback. A major advantage of this course is that an instructor can easily modify it to suit any area of expertise. Students have worked with data about how a snail's morphology changes in response to its environment (Price, 2012), how students understand genetic drift (Price et al. 2014), maximum body size in the fossil record (Payne et al. 2008), range shifts (Ettinger et al. 2011), and urban crop pollination (Waters and Clifford 2014).

Discipline: Environmental Science:Ecosystems, Environmental Science, Geoscience:Paleontology, Life Sciences:Evolution, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Washington
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term

CREARE: Coral Response to Environment Authentic Research Experience
Juan Ramirez Lugo, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
There is growing body of evidence to support that students who directly experience authentic scientific research are more likely to continue onto advanced degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In an effort to introduce more students to the benefits of scientific research we have drawn on an ongoing research project aimed at understanding how Corals Respond to the Environment (CRE) to develop an interdisciplinary laboratory course based on Authentic Research Experiences (ARE). A small cohort of undergraduate students enrolled in a semester-long course, entitled CREARE, perform biochemical experiments in the laboratory, analyze environmental data by R statistical software and prepared a report modeled after a research manuscript to present their work. The impact of CREARE on student learning gains and attitudes towards science is being measured, as is the impact of CREARE on participants' career choices and retention in STEM. This multidisciplinary research program addresses the impact of climate change on the health of a critically endangered coral species, ultimately leading to a better stewardship of this invaluable resource. Furthermore, CREARE offers a unique experience for students, one that may serve as a model for the development of more research-based courses, leading to improved retention in our STEM departments.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate, Environmental Science, Life Sciences, Statistics, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Environmental Science:Oceans and Coastal Resources
Core Competencies: Using mathematics and computational thinking, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Field Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research
Target Audience: Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term

Synthesis of the Intermediate of a Catalytic Reaction: An NHC-Stabilized, First-Row Transition Metal Complex
Meng Zhou, Lawrence Technological University
The advanced synthesis laboratory course object allows students to study the synthesis, purification, and characterizations of a new diamagnetic organometallic complex of a first-row transition metal. The air-stable complex is stabilized by an N-heterocyclic carbene spectator ligand. It also bears an actor ligand and therefore, is potentially a reactive intermediate of a catalytic reaction. The synthesis of a reactive intermediate is the key to elucidate the mechanism of catalysis. The instructor chooses the first-row transition metal and the actor ligand based on his or her interests. The CURE starts from an NHC-ligated complex that does not bear this actor ligand but is otherwise similar. In our CURE, an anion ligand-replacement reaction was used to install the actor ligand, but an instructor may choose other approaches. The students will evaluate their results by standard spectroscopic analyses using UV-vis, FT-IR, and proton NMR (60 MHz or above) analysis.

Discipline: Chemistry:Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: Michigan
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A few class periods

Spicing things up: the implementation of a CURE to investigate the antimicrobial properties of spices on six bacterial species
Heather Townsend, Community College of Rhode Island
I issue students six bacterial species for use. I have students start the semester understanding primary literature and how to find sources, plagiarism, and how to use citations. They must then pick a spice (one per group) using literature, meaning they have to research that a particular spice has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. Once selected they do a series of dilutions and finally test the dilutions on the six bacterial species. All groups must use the entire class data in their discussion along with the historical data from previous semesters. They end in designing a poster which they finally present at a poster presentation open to the college.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Rhode Island
Target Audience: Introductory, Upper Division, Non-major, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Characterizing the Aging Process Using Caenorhabditis elegans and Reverse Genetics
Joslyn Mills, Brown University
Using gene silencing (RNAi) in the nemotode C. elegans, students will identify genetic modifiers of proteins with roles in aging by reverse genetics. Specifically, students will analyze the effect of knocking down genes on the level of aging-related proteins tagged with fluorophores (GFP, RFP, etc.). Each group of students will use function-specific RNAi libraries (transcription factors, kinases, etc) already established in our lab. Furthermore, students will evaluate the effect of genetic modifiers on proteostasis and lifespan. In addition to becoming familiar with C. elegans work and appreciating the use of model organisms, the students will master microscopy, genetic crosses, gene silencing, and molecular and biochemical readout assays such as qPCR and immunoblotting.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Genetics, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: Rhode Island
Target Audience: Introductory, Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Isolation and characterization of antibiotic-producing soil bacteria
Maria Messner, Lenoir Community College
One of the biggest threat in hospitals is the rising cases of people who harbor antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Therefore, it is critical to find and characterize novel antibiotics to combat the resistant strains. Most of the antibiotics used in healthcare settings come from anti-biotic producing bacteria and fungi found in the soil. The goal of this CURE will be to isolate antibiotic-producing bacteria and fungi from the soil in the local area, and to determine the chemistry of the antibiotics. An extension of the project will be to determine how the presence of antibiotic-producing microbes affect other organisms resident in the soil, as it is unclear as to why microbes use energy to produce antibiotic factors.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Microbiology

The HICA project
Kathleen Cornely, Providence College
In this CURE, inspired by the work of Hoffmann, et al., students prepare mutant Haemophilus influenzae carbonic anhydrase (HICA) proteins. Using PyMOL to visualize the three-dimensional structure of the HICA protein, students choose one or more surface amino acid residues to mutate to histidine residues in order to create a surface histidine cluster that will allow the mutant protein to bind to a nickel affinity column. Using site-directed mutagenesis, recombinant plasmids are constructed and are then used to transform an E. coli expression vector. The mutant HICA protein is overexpressed, cells are lysed, and students load the cell lysate onto Ni-NTA columns and determine the imidazole concentration required to elute the mutant protein. The construction of a library of mutant proteins will allow the development of a general method in which specific surface histidine residues of any protein can be mutated in order to facilitate affinity purification. The Haemophilus influenzae bacterium described herein is a respiratory pathogen that causes meningitis (in its encapsulated form) and mucosal infections such as otitis media, sinusitis and conjunctivitis (in its unencapsulated form). A recent study showed that the carbonic anhydrase enzyme is absolutely required for pathogenesis. Furthermore, expression of the HICA enzyme allows the pathogen to survive in host immune cells (Langereis, et al.). These observations make the study of HICA itself particularly attractive, in addition to the overall goal of contributing to a body of work that will allow the minimal histidine character required for nickel affinity to be ascertained.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Informatics/Computational Research, Basic Research
State: Rhode Island
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term

Resequencing of Commercial Microorganisms
Jessica Kaufman, Endicott College
Students choose a probiotic pill or product with labeling that indicates the species and strain of bacteria in the product. Products are chosen so that a high quality reference genome sequence is available on NCBI. After DNA isolation and library preparation, high-quality student samples are pooled for next-gen sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq. The following semester, students in the required bioinformatics course will analyze the FASTQ files from the NGS run with a simple variant call workflow on usegalaxy.org. Then, each student will use a R Shiny app developed for this CURE to convert the VCF output from Galaxy to a FASTA file for an assigned gene in the resequenced genome. Students will complete their research experience by submitting the FASTA file to the NCBI Nucleotide Database.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Genetics
Core Competencies: Using mathematics and computational thinking, Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Informatics/Computational Research
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms