This project at East Tennessee State University provides opportunities for Students to gain skills in biology and math through full participation in the research process. A major component of the Collaborative Research on the Arthropod Way of Life CRAWL program is long-term immersion in a research project, involving each student in every stage of the scientific process. Major emphases are on: (1) the hypothetico-deductive approach to problem-solving, (2) rigorous experimental design developed by the entire team, thus ensuring a truly integrative approach, (3) introduction to critical thinking and the application of mathematical and biological skills via workshops, (4) "on-the-job" learning of critical skills for data collection, data management, statistical analyses, and mathematical modeling, (5) dissemination of results at both the local and national levels, (6) undergoing the publication process, including creation of publication-quality graphs & tables, scientific writing, and responding to reviewer critiques. The PIs of the project have developed projects that address fundamental questions in the areas of spatiotemporal dynamics of intraspecific interactions (aggression in spiders and flies, communication in honey bees) and the neurohormonal underpinnings and ecological implications of these behaviors. Analytical approaches include time-series analyses, spatial analyses, agent-based modeling, graph theoretic analyses, logistic regression modeling, and diffusion-based mathematical models. With its inter-connected biological and mathematical themes, joint mentorship, and team approach, CRAWL is a model for efficiently integrating undergraduates into established research programs.
The Undergraduate Biomathematics Program supported by NSF at the East Tennessee State Unvisersity provides opportunities to engage undergraduates in meaningful interdisciplinary research experiences. The CRAWL program aims to generate a research culture in biology and math at ETSU by building an infrastructure that will ensure its sustainability. Critical to its success, the excitement of the discovery process must be translated into classroom and teaching laboratory experiences for students not directly supported by the program. The CRAWL program is intended to have a synergistic effect on the overall curriculum at ETSU as projects and results are incorporated as modules into upper division math and biology courses. In addition, several of the research projects may be adapted as teaching laboratories. CRAWL students have the opportunity to impact other underrepresented students at the university by providing guest lectures and presentations in both introductory and upper level courses. CRAWL students are selected and recruited from under-represented groups in the Southern Appalachian region.