WKU's Biology Dept Helps Drive Transformative Science Education
- Author: Dr. Rodney King
- Author: Friday, March 30th, 2018
WKU Biology Professors Rodney King, Claire Rinehart and Biology Instructor Naomi Rowland are contributing authors on a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The article entitled “An inclusive Research Education Community (iREC): Impact of the SEA-PHAGES program on research outcomes and student learning” was published in the November 12, 2017 issue and can be freely accessed at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/12/04/1718188115
WKU is a member of the second cohort of schools that joined the Science Education Alliance–Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program. This program, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a national experiment designed to promote engagement and continued involvement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education among beginning undergraduate students. The program includes over 100 institutions across the U.S. with an increasing number of international participants.
The PNAS paper is a comprehensive analysis of data collected since the program’s inception and provides evidence that SEA-PHAGES students show strong gains which are correlated with persistence relative to those in traditional laboratory courses. The authors conclude that widespread implementation of the iREC model has “the potential to drive a major transformation of undergraduate science education.”
WKU students participate in the SEA-PHAGES program by taking the Biology Department’s Genome Discovery and Exploration course (Biol212) and Bioinformatics (Biol312). Data generated by the students has been published in peer reviewed journals and DNA sequence databases (e.g. Genbank).