9600864 Miller Funds are requested to develop, implement, and evaluate an innovative laboratory course at Santa Clara University in which undergraduate students will participate in a supervised reserach project. This research project is directly related to ongoing research in the laboratory of the principal investigator. The course will be named "Project Lab" and will be taught for one quarter each year. Each year, the course will focus on research activities appropriate for that particular stage of the research project. The addition of this course will enhance the science education of undergraduate students at Santa Clara University by providing hands-on laboratory experience and exposure to real research problems. Specifically, students will study how cells choose their fates in the soil nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. In any particular year, students will be exposed to several different types of experimental techniques and procedures. Furthermore, equipment requested in this proposal will enhance SCU science facilities to allow students access to state-of-the-art technologies. Students will participate in the design, implementation, and data analysis of each experiment included in that year's Project Lab course. In addition, papers from the primary literature on topics directly related to the research project will be assigned and discussed. At the end of the quarter, students will assimilate and present their data as a poster presentation to the rest of the class. Each year, several students will present their posters at a local undergraduate research conference and some will paricipate in a poster session at a regional or international C. elegans conference. Finally, during the rest of the academic year and summer, two or three undergraduate students who have participated in the course will continue their research under the supervision of the PI. These extended research experiences will provide intensive research exposure to highly motivated students, in addition to sharpe ning their critical thinking skills. The goals of his project are: 1) to provide direct research experience to a significant number of undergraduate students at SCU 2) to motivate, attract, and retain qualified students (particularly women and underrepresented minorities) to pursue graduate studies in the biological sciences 3) to promot critical thinking 4) to enhance SCU science facilities to support modern technologies 5) to understand how cell fates are specified in C. elegans

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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Program Officer
Judith Plesset
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Santa Clara University
Santa Clara
United States
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