Utilizing the Paleobiology Database to Provide Hands-On Research Opportunities for Undergraduates
As we examine how a large database like PBDB can be leveraged to provide research experiences to undergraduates, we are also developing a set of data-focused lessons that can be incorporated into introductory and advanced undergraduate classes. The lessons will be modular so that they can be utilized as in class assignments, laboratory exercise, field investigations, or as homework, and feature essential skills for scientifically literate citizens, including critical thinking and data analysis. Here we highlight specific lessons that take advantage of the strengths of the PBDB. For example, we present a lesson focused on understanding biogeography through plate tectonics using Mesosaurus and other fossils that provided the first evidence for Pangaea. This project will help guide other large scientific databases in crafting research experiences for undergraduate students, and provide the means for other earth science programs, including distance education programs, to engage their undergraduates in scientific research.