Monday, October 23, 2017

Sharing BASIL with Other Campuses

We are very interested in sharing BASIL and seeing if this approach works on other campuses. We have several approaches to sharing. The first is this blog and the links on the blog to the BASIL modules. We also present our experiences at national conferences of the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and the Biophysical Society.

We also will be publishing articles about our experiences. To date, we have one publication in print, one in press and one in the submission process. Here is the link to our article that was published in the September/October issue of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, volume 45, issue 5, pp. 426-436:

A survey on faculty perspectives on the transition to a biochemistry course-based undergraduate research experience laboratory. 

Two of the BASIL team members are planning sabbaticals that will include work on this project and may include visits to other BASIL campuses. As a group we plan to welcome interested faculty members to have short-term (spring break) or longer term visits to our campuses to witness the BASIL project first hand. Please email me at paul dot craig at rit dot edu if this interests you.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Biochemists in Tampa (Mike Pikaart)

July may be off-season for travel to Florida, but the biochemistry was definitely timely at the University of Tampa for the 2017 "Transforming Undergraduate Education in the Molecular Life Sciences" semiannual meeting organized by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology July 20-23.

I attended in order to network with fellow biochemists, learn some helpful tips and ideas for teaching, and present the current work on our BASIL project in a talk entitled "CURES: Building communities to support and sustain biochemistry research in the teaching laboratory."  I had the privilege of sharing the platform with Dr. Joe Provost of the University of San Diego, who described the work of a group of biochemists building a lab CURE on malate dehydrogenase - and had a lot of fun sharing similar challenges and joys involved in working collaboratively across multiple institutions.  Collaborative CUREs are a lot of work, but bring rich rewards in terms of student learning and, as it turns out, faculty professional development.

Along with talking CUREs, conferees learned about effective textbook use, assessment techniques, funding opportunities, and effective ways to engage students in biochemistry at institutions ranging from small liberal arts colleges and community colleges to large research universities.  And - we did get to enjoy some great Cuban food in Tampa's historic Ybor City.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

AMR Boot Camp at Rutgers

Benzyl penicillin bound to the New Delhi
β-lactamase. Image based on PDB entry 4eyf.
Twelve students and four faculty members from the BASIL project attended the Mechanisms of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) Boot Camp at the Center for Integrated Proteomics Research at Rutgers University from June 19-23, 2007. The students worked in teams to study enzymes that modify antibiotics to inactivate them:
  • four Ambler classes of β-lactamases
  • three classes of enzymes that modify aminoglycosides 
One team focused on resistance to vancomycin and another team worked with polymixin resistance.

There was a strong structural focus throughout the Boot Camp. Students used the Protein Data Bank website to find literature and related links from other web sites and to compare the proteins they were studying with other sequences and structures on the PDB. They also learned to work with UCSF Chimera to visualize the interactions between enzymes, antibiotics and other small molecules, as seen in the figure above. 

They also studied strategies for overcoming antimicrobial resistance, including inactivation of the enzymes that modify the antibiotics and development of new antibiotics.

Each day also included talks from leading researchers in the AMR, time working in teams and practice for the concluding presentations on Friday morning, June 23.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Seminars at the University of Alabama and Mississippi State University

On Thursday, March 22, 2017, I was invited to give a seminar about the BASIL project at the University of Alabama Department of Chemistry, followed by a seminar at Mississippi State Department of Chemistry on Friday, March 24, 2017.

On each campus I presented a 25 minute talk about the BASIL project and followed that with questions. First, I asked when they started to see themselves as scientists. Here are the results:

Education Level
Middle School
High School
Graduate School
Post-doctoral Fellow

Then we formed groups of 5-8 people (students and faculty). Each group discussed how we can tell when students are growing as scientists. Here are some of their most common answers:
  • When “what” questions become “why” questions
  • When curiosity becomes more important that grades
  • When students start desigining their own experiments
  • When students challenge the instructor
  • When students find a better model on their own
  • When students begin to engage in “what if” thinking
  • When students start teaching each other
It was a lot of fun to engage the audience for 25 minutes.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Article in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Education

We have published our first article for the BASIL project, about the experiences and opinions of the faculty members who adapted the BASIL curriculum on their campuses.

BASIL News Article from Oral Roberts University

Bob Stewart is a professor of chemistry at Oral Roberts University and a member of the BASIL project team. He was recently interviewed by Stephanie Hill, who writes for the ORU Alumni Excellence magazine. Click on this link to read her article: