modeling approaches to research in biology. While not directly part of the physics/engineering curriculum for biology, and perhaps best given under the aegis of a biology department, they can have an immense impact on the views of students as to what is of importance.
Many engineering curricula require a capstone design experience, in which students undertake one project that ties together many of the topics they have learned throughout their college career. Borrowing successful models from engineering, a biology capstone course might be required. This course could be a design experience, a research experience, or a combination of the two. The goal should be to give a major experience that requires the students to bring together their diverse knowledge to accomplish the goals of the projects. The students should work as teams under the close guidance of a faculty member. The course should be a one-semester course, although a two-semester sequence is not uncommon in engineering. The teams should be required to accomplish something more than a paper product (i.e., writing a small research proposal should not be sufficient). Instead of research, the students could focus on the development of a biorelated product. In any event, a significant report and presentation should be required. Efforts should be made to have biology students work on multidisciplinary projects with engineering, biomedical engineering, physics, chemistry, and other majors.
The committee brainstormed the following ideas for advanced seminar courses, and some aspects of these courses would also make appropriate capstone projects. They involve bringing together diverse aspects of students’ previous education in order to increase their understanding of more complex systems:
The Mechanics of Organisms as described in Case Study #5 in the body of the committee report.
Determination of Structure, the chemistry and biology of proteins using methods of diffraction and spectroscopy and including the topics of fluorescence, Fourier transforms, electron spins, and display of 3-D data.
Biological Imaging including the properties of light, thin lens laws, resolution, and diffraction orders, the lens as a Fourier transform, fluorescence, confocal microscopy, MRI, electron microscopy, tomography, and deconvolution.
Molecular Biophysics of signal transduction at the cell surface and inside the cell, including the statistics of receptor ligand interactions, life in low Reynolds number, kinases and phosphatases, G-protein coupled cas-