CURE Examples


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A Bioinformatic Look at Iron Uptake in Insects
Emily Ragan, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Students will perform BLAST searches, make phylogenetic trees, identify putative orthologs, and investigate secondary structure elements of 5' untranslated regions (UTRs). The sequences used will be related to iron uptake in insects.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Analyzing and interpreting data
Nature of Research: Informatics/Computational Research
State: Colorado
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

Exploring the Structure-Function Relationship in RNA Biochemistry

Discipline: Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Chemistry:Biochemistry
Core Competencies: Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), Developing and using models, Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Using mathematics and computational thinking, Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
Nature of Research: Basic Research
State: Colorado
Target Audience: Upper Division, Major
CURE Duration: Half a term

POP-CURE Project TRAIT: Investigating Apple Physiology in the Power of Place CURE
Maggie Richards, Front Range Community College
Students will investigate apple trees that have survived in remnants of old orchards in the local community. Research projects will focus on comparing physiology and growth of different cultivars exposed to environmental stress, such as drought, in common garden experiments.

BERT: Beaver Ecosystem Research Team 1
Jamie Crait, University of Wyoming

Blood oxygen concentration response to fitness walking, an authentic research experience.
Bridget Raach, Clark College
There is growing body of evidence to support that students who directly experience authentic scientific research are more likely to continue on to advanced degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In an effort to reduce student apprehension of science and introduce more students to the benefits of scientific research, we have developed a research project to be included in a two credit physical education course, PE 102 Fitness Walking. A continuation of this research project will occur in the second of the series, PE 202 Intermediate Fitness Walking. This research is aimed at understanding how undergraduates' oxygen levels respond to exercise. These courses, PE 102 and 202 are offered every quarter at Clark College. The CURE research will be one of the learning objectives and components of the courses. The enrolled students will use a hand held device which measures their blood oxygen levels and record their personal result. This testing will be repeated throughout the quarter; students will reflect on how the choices they are making daily are influencing their results. Finally the students will work collaboratively to compare their results to identify trends or inconsistencies. The impact of this CURE on student learning gains and attitudes towards science is being measured, as is the impact of participants' choices on their health. This research program addresses the impact of daily choices on the health of the individual, ultimately leading to a more thoughtful approach to lifestyle choices. Furthermore, the inclusion of CURE offers a unique experience for students, one that may serve as a model for the development of more CURE inclusion in courses for non-science majors, and leading to improved acceptance of and attitudes towards science in the general population.

Characterization of Cellular Responses of Coquina Clams in Response Environmental Factors
Peter Cavnar, The University of West Florida
The coquina clams are bivalve mollusks of the genus Donax; they are found worldwide. Among various coquinas, Donax variabilis is the most common species found in the U.S. along the Eastern Coast and Gulf of Mexico intertidal zones. Coquinas are adapted to live and feed in the waves from the beaches, actively migrating up and down along the waves and can re-burrow between waves. Using short siphons, coquinas feed on phytoplankton, algae, bacteria and other small particles suspended in the waves. They can concentrate high levels of pollutants and microbes through filter feeding, and therefore are used as bio-indicators of levels of pollutants such as toxic metals, pesticides, and even hydrocarbon residues from oil spills (Zuloaga et al., 2009). Abundant coquinas on a beach indicate the beach's capacity for healthy habitat support. Because the coquina has a great capacity to concentrate toxins and microbes, the coquina can serve as a model organism for the study of the relationship between marine invertebrates and microbes and how marine invertebrates handle stresses in the environment. Very little is known about the cell biology of the coquina, and very little genomic inquiry has been performed on coquina to date. Coquina research would be a novel CURE project for improving student success and for building up a coquina genetic/genomic and cell biology experimental system. The results gained from the coquina CURE will benefit the biology learning community scientifically and educationally, and provide a model framework for faculty engagement and expansion unique to the Gulf Coast.

Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN) CURE
Sarah St. Onge, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center

BERT 2 (Beaver Ecosystem Research Team)
Chris North, University of Wyoming
The Beaver Ecosystem Research Team (BERT) series of CURE courses will introduce student to ecological literature and research methods within the context of beaver pond ecosystems. Beavers are the archetypal ecosystem engineer and strongly influence their environment, affecting other organisms and natural processes. The pond complexes created by beavers are centers of biodiversity in mountainous areas, and lend themselves to numerous study questions. They are also easily accessed from our campus in Laramie. Our overarching research goals are to understand the role of landscape context (i.e. are ponds surrounded by sagebrush steppe, aspen groves, or lodgepole forest, for example) on beaver pond biodiversity, and how does matter and energy flow between ponds and the surrounding landscape (often termed "terrestrial-aquatic linkages"). Within the context of these broader research goals, students will develop and carryout research projects in groups.

Discipline: Life Sciences:Ecology, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity, Life Sciences:Molecular Biology, Zoology, Environmental Science, Life Sciences:Plant Biology, Life Sciences