CURE Examples


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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:Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Developing and using models, 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: Rhode Island
Target Audience: Upper Division, Introductory, 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, Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Informatics/Computational Research
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Multiple terms

The Effect of Silver Nanoparticles on Plant Growth and Herbivory
Erin Rehrig, Fitchburg State University
In this CURE, students will conduct experiments to determine the effects of silver nanoparticles on plant growth and insect herbivory. Students will synthesize their own nanoparticles and treat Arabididopsis plants with them. After 5 weeks, insects (Pieris rapae, caterpillars) will be placed on plants and insect herbivory will be assessed across treatments. Insects will be weighted before and after feeding assays. Plant growth rates and insect herbivory measurements will be done using digital photography and image analysis using MathLab.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Plant Biology
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Massachusetts
Target Audience: Major, Upper Division
CURE Duration: A full term

Spicing things up: 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: Upper Division, Introductory, Major, Non-major
CURE Duration: A full term

Types of Probiotic strains and their concentrations
Luda Bard, Howard Community College
In this CURE, students are going to research what types of probiotics are found in the probiotics that are available in grocery stores for purchase. They will investigate the concentration of those probiotics depending on expiration date.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Genetics
Nature of Research: Basic Research
Target Audience: Major, Introductory
CURE Duration: Multiple terms, A full term, Half a term

Evaluating Water Quality in the Elizabeth River (Eastern Branch) at Norfolk, VA
Joe D'Silva, Norfolk State University
The eastern branch of the Elizabeth River is located two miles south of Norfolk State University campus. Effluents from a ship repair site are discharged into the river. The water is polluted with oil. The quality of water below and above the shipyard needs to be investigated since the river is also home to fish, oysters, jelly fish. The research will assess the health of the river with regard to its physical properties and levels of chemical.

Discipline: Life Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Basic Research, Field Research
State: Virginia
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Using Polymerase Chain Reaction to Investigate Food
Frances Turner, Howard Community College

Discipline: Life Sciences, Molecular Biology
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: Maryland
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Bioplastics as a CURE for General Chemistry
Linda Zarzana, American River College

Discipline: Chemistry
Core Competencies: Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), Analyzing and interpreting data, Planning and carrying out investigations
Nature of Research: Applied Research
State: California
Target Audience: Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

BIO195: Lab-Based Biological Inquiry: Poisons
Larissa Williams, Bates College
This is a course-based research experience in the biological sciences. Students will build research skills through open-ended, authentic experimentation or observations of the natural world. Students will gain practice reading scientific literature, formulating and testing hypotheses, analyzing data, interpreting results, communicating in disciplinary style, and working in teams. The 'Poisons' version of the course is focused on historical and emerging poisons, with an emphasis on lead. Students will investigate the molecular and behavioral effects of developmental lead exposure using the zebrafish model. Intended for students majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, or Environmental Studies, or preparing for a health-related career; it is recommended that students taking BIO 195 simultaneously enroll in CHEM 107 or CHEM 108.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Human Population, Environmental Science, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity
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, Wet Lab/Bench Research
State: Maine
Target Audience: Major, Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term

Survey of the Effects of Industrial Effluents on Water Quality
Patrick Kolniak, Baton Rouge Community College; Divina Miranda, Baton Rouge Community College; Dewayne Logan, Baton Rouge Community College
Water pollution is very harmful to humans, animals and water life. The effects can be catastrophic, depending on the kind of chemicals, concentrations of the pollutants and where there are polluted. The effects of water pollution are varied and depend on what chemicals are dumped and in which locations. The proposed research will investigate any significant contributions of industries to water pollution around the city. Water samples from strategic locations will be collected and ultimately analyzed using various physical and chemical methods.The results will be evaluated and compared to toxicity values published by governmental environmental agencies to make valid inferences.

Discipline: Environmental Science:Sustainability, Chemistry:Inorganic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Science:Oceans and Coastal Resources, Soils and Agriculture, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Chemistry:Physical Chemistry, Environmental Science:Waste, Water Quality and Quantity
Core Competencies: Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Wet Lab/Bench Research, Applied Research, Basic Research, Field Research
State: Louisiana
Target Audience: Introductory
CURE Duration: A full term