National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

BIO 2010

TRANSFORMING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION FOR FUTURE RESEARCH BIOLOGISTS

Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century

Board on Life Sciences

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract Number N01-OD-4-2139, Task Order 64 between the National Academies and the National Institutes of Health and Award Number 71200-500115 between the National Academies and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bio2010 : transforming undergraduate education for future research biologists / Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century, Board on Life Sciences, Division on Earth and Life Studies, the National Research Council of the National Academies.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-309-08535-7 (pbk.)

1. Biology—Study and teaching (Higher)—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century.

QH319.A1 B56 2002

570′.71′173—dc21

2002152267

Additional copies of this report are available from the
National Academies Press,
500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu

Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE BIOLOGY EDUCATION TO PREPARE RESEARCH SCIENTISTS FOR THE 21STCENTURY

LUBERT STRYER (Chair),

Stanford University, Stanford, California

RONALD BRESLOW,

Columbia University, New York, New York

JAMES GENTILE,

Hope College, Holland, Michigan

DAVID HILLIS,

University of Texas, Austin, Texas

JOHN HOPFIELD,

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

NANCY KOPELL,

Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

SHARON LONG,

Stanford University, Stanford, California

EDWARD PENHOET,

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, San Francisco, California

JOAN STEITZ,

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

CHARLES STEVENS,

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California

SAMUEL WARD,

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Staff

KERRY A. BRENNER, Study Director,

Board on Life Sciences

ROBERT T. YUAN, Program Officer,

Board on Life Sciences

JAY B. LABOV, Deputy Director,

Center for Education

JOAN G. ESNAYRA, Program Officer,

Board on Life Sciences

BRIDGET K.B. AVILA, Senior Project Assistant,

Board on Life Sciences

DENISE GROSSHANS, Project Assistant,

Board on Life Sciences

Editor

PAULA T. WHITACRE

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES

COREY S. GOODMAN (Chair),

University of California, Berkeley, California

R. ALTA CHARO,

University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

JOANNE CHORY,

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California

DAVID J. GALAS,

Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Science, Claremont, California

BARBARA GASTEL,

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

JAMES M. GENTILE,

Hope College, Holland, Michigan

LINDA E. GREER,

Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC

ED HARLOW,

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

ELLIOT M. MEYEROWITZ,

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

ROBERT T. PAINE,

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

GREGORY A. PETSKO,

Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

STUART L. PIMM,

Columbia University, New York, New York

JOAN B. ROSE,

University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida

GERALD M. RUBIN,

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland

BARBARA A. SCHAAL,

Washington University, St. Louis

RAYMOND L. WHITE,

DNA Sciences, Inc., Fremont, California

Staff

FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director

JENNIFER KUZMA, Senior Program Officer

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Senior Program Officer

KERRY A. BRENNER, Program Officer

JOAN G. ESNAYRA, Program Officer

MARILEE K. SHELTON, Program Officer

EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Program Officer

ROBERT T. YUAN, Program Officer

BRIDGET K.B. AVILA, Senior Project Assistant

DENISE GROSSHANS, Project Assistant

VALERIE GUTMANN, Project Assistant

SETH STRONGIN, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

Foreword

This report continues the National Academies’ efforts in the reform of education by calling on researchers to recognize the importance of teaching and to join together with educators to promote undergraduate learning. The goal in this case is to prepare the next generation of biological researchers for the tremendous opportunities ahead. Attaining this goal will require that faculty spend more time discussing their teaching with their colleagues, both within and outside of their own field or department. The enthusiastic participation of the Bio2010 committee members in this study demonstrates how deeply our leading researchers value education. It also proves that chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and biologists can learn from each other, as well as from talented educators. As the report makes clear, biological research today has reached a very exciting stage, and many more biological scientists with strong backgrounds in physics and chemistry will be needed. Moreover, collaborations between established scientists who were trained in different disciplines will be facilitated if they learn to communicate with its practitioners at an early stage in their careers and appreciate the contributions that each discipline can make to biology.

Undergraduate education is a crucial link in the preparation of future researchers. Many university faculty care deeply about education, but most of them have received no training in how to teach. This report offers many suggestions for faculty who would like to improve their teaching. It presents examples of what others have done and resources for further investi-

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
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gation. It also calls on colleges, universities, and others to provide support for faculty who want to devote energy to improving teaching and to producing new teaching materials.

The National Academies have produced dozens of reports on education in recent years. Many of these reports are useful resources for college faculty. Science Teaching Reconsidered is a handbook for faculty to help them improve their teaching. Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology promotes a vision in which these subjects would become accessible to all students. How People Learn and Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards are written for precollege faculty, but they contain important ideas for everyone on how knowledge of cognitive science can inform teaching and learning. All of these resources are freely available on our Web site at www.nationalacademies.org.

Publishing reports is not enough. As a result of ideas presented in this Bio2010 report, the National Academies will launch a pilot program, a Summer Institute for Undergraduate Biology Education. The Institute will bring teams of faculty from research universities together to present them with proven ways to improve student learning, as well as to allow them to share their own expertise concerning effective undergraduate teaching.

In closing, I would like to thank Lubert Stryer for his inspired, energetic leadership of this important project, as well as the members of the committee and its staff for each of their critical contributions. They have served the nation well.

Bruce Alberts

President, National Academy of Sciences

Chair, National Research Council

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

Preface

Increasingly, biomedical researchers must be comfortable applying diverse aspects of mathematics and the physical sciences to their pursuit of biological knowledge. Biomedical researchers advance society’s understanding of many topics, not just human disease. They work with diverse model organisms and study behavior in systems ranging from the molecular to the organismal using traditional biological techniques as well as high-tech approaches. Undergraduate biology students who become comfortable with the ideas of mathematics and physical sciences from the start of their education will be better positioned to contribute to future discoveries in biomedical research. For this reason the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute asked the National Research Council to evaluate the undergraduate education of this particular group of students. The committee began its work in the fall of 2000.

The report recommends a comprehensive reevaluation of undergraduate science education for future biomedical researchers. In particular it calls for a renewed discussion on the ways that engineering and computer science, as well as chemistry, physics, and mathematics are presented to life science students. The conclusions of the report are based on input from chemists, physicists, and mathematicians, not just practicing research biologists. The committee recognizes that all undergraduate science education is interconnected. Changes cannot be made solely to benefit future biomedical researchers. The impact on undergraduates studying other types

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

of biology, as well as other sciences, cannot be ignored as reforms are considered. The Bio2010 report therefore provides ideas and options suitable for various academic situations and diverse types of institutions. It is hoped that the reader will use these possibilities to initiate discussions on the goals and methods of teaching used within their own department, institution, or professional society.

This report is the product of many individuals. The committee would like to thank those who participated in the Panel on Chemistry, the Panel on Physics and Engineering, the Panel on Mathematics and Computer Science, and the Workshop on Innovative Undergraduate Biology Education. The names of all these individuals are listed in the appendices of this report. Their input played an essential role in the committee’s deliberations.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Norma Allewell, University of Maryland, College Park

Wyatt Anderson, University of Georgia

Michael Antolin, Colorado State University

Susan Chaplin, University of St. Thomas

Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Michigan State University

Ronald Henry, Georgia State University

Nancy Stewart Mills, Trinity University

Jeanne Narum, Project Kaleidoscope

Paul Sternberg, California Institute of Technology

Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William B. Wood of the University of Colorado and May R. Berenbaum of the University of Illinois. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
×

for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
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Interdisciplinary Lecture and Seminar Courses,

 

66

   

Case Study #4: Quantitative Education for Biologists,

 

68

   

Case Study #5: Seminar on the Mechanics of Organisms,

 

71

   

Teaching Materials,

 

72

4

 

ENGAGING STUDENTS WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY AND PROJECT-BASED LABORATORIES

 

75

   

The Role of Laboratories,

 

75

   

Proposed New Laboratories,

 

76

   

Case Study #6: Interdisciplinary Laboratory,

 

78

   

Case Study #7: Neurobiology Laboratory,

 

80

   

Case Study #8: Workshop Physics,

 

82

5

 

ENABLING UNDERGRADUATES TO EXPERIENCE THE EXCITEMENT OF BIOLOGY

 

87

   

Incorporating Independent Undergraduate Research Experiences,

 

87

   

Seminars to Communicate the Excitement of Biology,

 

91

   

Case Study #9: Undergraduate Research Abroad,

 

92

   

Increasing the Diversity of Future Research Biologists,

 

94

   

Case Study #10: Integrated First-Year Science,

 

95

   

Case Study #11: First-Year Seminar on Plagues,

 

96

   

Case Study #12: Computational Biology,

 

98

6

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

101

   

The Evolving Role of Departments,

 

102

   

Faculty,

 

103

   

Reform Initiatives and Administrative Support,

 

104

   

Facilities,

 

105

   

National Networks for Reform,

 

106

   

Nurturing the Production of New Books and Other Teaching Materials,

 

107

   

Financial Support for Improving Undergraduate Biology Education,

 

108

   

Harmonizing the Undergraduate Science Education of Future Graduate Students and Medical Students,

 

111

   

The Central Role of Faculty Development in Curriculum Transformation,

 

112

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2003. BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10497.
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Biological sciences have been revolutionized, not only in the way research is conducted -- with the introduction of techniques such as recombinant DNA and digital technology -- but also in how research findings are communicated among professionals and to the public. Yet, the undergraduate programs that train biology researchers remain much the same as they were before these fundamental changes came on the scene.

This new volume provides a blueprint for bringing undergraduate biology education up to the speed of today’s research fast track. It includes recommendations for teaching the next generation of life science investigators, through:

  • Building a strong interdisciplinary curriculum that includes physical science, information technology, and mathematics.
  • Eliminating the administrative and financial barriers to cross-departmental collaboration.
  • Evaluating the impact of medical college admissions testing on undergraduate biology education.
  • Creating early opportunities for independent research.
  • Designing meaningful laboratory experiences into the curriculum.

The committee presents a dozen brief case studies of exemplary programs at leading institutions and lists many resources for biology educators. This volume will be important to biology faculty, administrators, practitioners, professional societies, research and education funders, and the biotechnology industry.

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