CURE Collection

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Results 1 - 10 of 25 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

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

Allelopathy in Trees Exploration
Pat Boleyn, Lane Community College
Adapted from: An Aromatic Adventure with Allelopathy: Using Garlic To Study Allelopathy in the Classroom. By: Shimabukuro, Mary A., Haberman, Vickie, American Biology Teacher, 00027685, Apr2006, Vol. 68, Issue 4 Allelopathy is defined as any direct or indirect harmful or beneficial effect of one plant (including the microbes) on another through production of compounds that escape into the environment. The most common usage of the term refers to the detrimental effect of one plant on another. Allelopathic compounds can be released from plants in various ways including decomposition of plant residues, root exudation, leaching, and volatile emissions. Allelochemicals may assist plants by reducing competition from neighboring plants and providing protection from predators and pathogens. Often these chemicals inhibit seed germination and root growth of young neighboring plants with less effect on mature plants (Shimabukuro 2006).Allelopathy is a complicated phenomenon. Reduced plant growth observed in many claims of allelopathy could be due to plant competition for water, mineral nutrients, carbon dioxide or root zone oxygen. Other factors could include pH changes or an altered osmotic potential of the soil as plant residues decompose. In addition, undecomposed plant material in soil may stunt plant growth due to immobilization of nitrogen.For these reasons, much of our understanding of allelopathy comes from studies that rely on bioassays. A bioassay is defined as the determination of the relative potency of a substance by comparing its effect on a group of test organisms or cells using appropriate controls" (Shimabukuro, 2006).However, allelopathy studies using bioassays are criticized because they do not approximate the conditions in natural ecosystems (Singh et al., 2001). Many of the problems described can be overcome by using a volatile allelopathic agent (airborne communication) such as garlic, or perhaps other volatiles that come from trees. This class based undergraduate research project was used in a forest biology 102 course by Pat Boleyn, at Lane Community College in the biology department to examine allelopathy in trees.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Plant Biology
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Oregon
Target Audience: Non-major
CURE Duration: A few class periods

Design-2-Data
Ashley Vater, University of California-Davis
The D2D program is centered around an undergraduate-friendly protocol workflow that follows the design-build-test-learn engineering framework. This protocol has served as the scaffold for a successful undergraduate training program and has been further developed into courses that range from a 10-week freshman seminar to a year-long, upper-division molecular biology course. The overarching research goal of this CURE probes the current predictive limitations of protein-modeling software by functionally characterizing single amino acid mutants in a robust model system. The most interesting outcomes of this project are dependent on large datasets, and, as such, the project is optimal for multi-institutional collaborations.

Discipline: Chemistry:Biochemistry, Chemistry, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models
Nature of Research: Applied Research, Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
Target Audience: Upper Division, Non-major, Introductory, Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term

Statistics in Physics Lab: Catastrophic Cancellation
John Walkup, California State University-Fresno
Error analysis consumes much of the focus in introductory physics labs. Catastrophic cancellation is a spike in error that occurs when subtracting two measurements of roughly equal magnitude. Often termed loss of significance or subtractive cancellation, this effect can easily relegate experimental results to utter worthlessness no matter how precise the measurements. A lab activity that exposes the ill effects of catastrophic cancellation in experimentation was carried out by undergraduate students that employs the traditional elastic collision experiment performed in countless labs across the country. Traditionally, lab designers try to lower experimental error as much as possible for students to confirm conservation of momentum and kinetic energy. In this lab activity, however, the calculations performed by the students were purposely modified to generate ridiculous levels of error based on nothing more than the order in which experimental values were summed. Students learn that measurement is not the only source of error in an experiment; that is, the order in which mathematical operations are carried out not only introduces error into calculations, but that this error can completely obscure experimental results.

Discipline: Physics, Statistics, Physics:Classical Mechanics

Laser spectroscopy of atmospherically relevant molecules and clusters in helium nanodroplets
Paul Raston, James Madison University
Superfluid helium nanodroplets present an ideal medium for the study of chemical dynamics at the molecular level. Their low temperature, enormous heat conductivity, and weakly interacting nature allow for the investigation of various things, such as how molecular rotation is effected by a solvent, and how molecules interact with each other. These two topics will be addressed in the lab by (1) measuring the spectra of unexplored molecules in helium nanodroplets and determining their rotational constants; this data will then be used to test known models describing the interaction between the molecule and helium solvent, and (2) synthesizing and characterizing unexplored molecular clusters in an effort to better understand molecular solvation; students will solvate the "unexplored molecule" with an atmospherically relevant species (O2, N2, H2O), and investigate the resulting clusters with laser Stark spectroscopy.

Discipline: Chemistry:Physical Chemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Developing and using models, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A few class periods

DNA cloning and protein analysis of animal-heme peroxidase within collagen IV of the extracellular matrix
Isi Ero-Tolliver, Hampton University
This CURE is to expose undergraduate students to the process of DNA cloning to identify the critical amino acids of the animal-heme peroxidase,peroxidasin, responsible for catalyzing sulfilimine bond formation within collagen IV of the basement membrane. Students will bioengineer a variety of mutants through primer design and polymerase chain reactions that contain point mutations within the immunoglobulin domain of the peroxidasin.

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

Investigating the effects of altered thyroid hormone levels on neural stem cell proliferation in the larval zebrafish hypothalamus.
Priyanjali Ghosh, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
The central nervous system of most vertebrate species consists of zones of neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation which retain the ability to undergo neuro/gliogenesis well into adulthood [1]. The two primary regions of adult neurogenesis in mammals are the ventricular and subventricular zones (V-SVZ) of the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of hippocampus [2–7]. Additionally, adult neurogenesis in the mammalian hypothalamus has also been reported [8–11]. Unlike mammals, neurogenesis is more abundant in reptiles, amphibians and fish [3, 12]. In fact, studies have identified 16 different regions of proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult zebrafish brain, and unlike mammalian species, neurogenesis occurs in all of these subdivisions in the zebrafish brain [2, 13, 14]. This makes the zebrafish a fantastic model organism for studying NSC proliferation and neuro/gliogenesis. Recent studies show that there are striking similarities and differences across all vertebrate species in the factors and mechanisms that regulate NSC proliferation and neuro/gliogenesis [1]. Thus, understanding these mechanisms is critical to understanding regenerative neurogenesis and to developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. One such interesting factor known to regulate NSC behavior throughout vertebrate life is thyroid hormone (TH). Appropriate amounts of TH are necessary for proper brain development in all vertebrates and studies have shown that TH plays an important role in maintaining NSC proliferation and fate determination in the central nervous system [15]. However, studies performed in rats and mice to understand the effects of TH on NSC proliferation reveal contradictory results. For example, low levels of TH are shown to decrease the proliferative rates of NSC in SVZ of mice [16] whereas the opposite effect is observed in the rat SVZ [17]. Not only does this suggest that the effect of TH may vary between species, it encourages us to explore the role of TH in the zebrafish brain. Specifically, for this CURE course, we are interested in studying the role of TH on NSC proliferation in the zebrafish hypothalamus. Why the hypothalamus? For one, the hypothalamus is the most ancient and evolutionarily conserved part of the vertebrate brain [18]. Second, life-long hypothalamic neurogenesis has been documented in rodents, zebrafish, and likely humans [5, 11, 19]. Lastly, very little is known about the role of TH in regulating the NSC proliferation in the hypothalamus (including that of the zebrafish), making the goal of thus CURE course novel.

Discipline: Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: Massachusetts
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: A full term