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CURE Collection

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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, Life Sciences:Ecology, Environmental Science:Ecosystems, Global Change and Climate, Oceans and Coastal Resources, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Field Research, Applied Research, Basic Research
State: California
Target Audience: Non-major, Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term

Cell Signaling
Greg Clark, The University of Texas at Austin
A recent exciting discovery in plants is that ATP is released into the extracellular matrix where it plays a major role in regulating growth and development. Extracellular ATP (eATP) has been confirmed to act as a hormone in animal cells, where it rapidly induces an increase in cytoplasmic calcium levels, a change that commonly leads to the activation of signaling pathways that greatly influence cell activities in both plants and animals. There is a biphasic growth response to applied ATP in growing plant cells and tissues suggesting that eATP functions like a hormone in plants as it does in animals. Students in this CURE carry out novel experiments on how eATP controls plant growth. They learn methods of experimental design, data gathering, data interpretation, and data presentation, and they learn principles of stimulus-response coupling that apply equally well to animals and plants. Students use the model plant, Arabidopsis. They to do their experiments on extracellular ATP signaling in root hairs, an agriculturally important model system for studying plant growth. Specifically, this CURE addresses the question of what are the early signaling steps that mediate the effects of eATP on the polarized growth of single-celled root hairs, structures that are crucial for plants' absorption of water and nutrients from the soil. Their experiments constitute a novel test of the signaling steps required for eATP-mediated changes in root hair growth.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Genetics, Plant Biology, Cell Biology, Life Sciences
Core Competencies: Using mathematics and computational thinking, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Developing and using models
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Basic Research
State: Texas
Target Audience: Introductory
CURE Duration: Multiple terms

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