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BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium Symposium

Using Investigative Cases for Problem Solving with Strategies, Tools, and Data from Plant Biology.

Ethel D. Stanley Stacy Kiser Margaret Waterman
Ethel D. Stanley, Stacy Kiser and Margaret Waterman

The National Research Council (2003) reported that while biology research is more interdisciplinary, quantitative, and collaborative than it was in the past, undergraduate biology education is not. Few of the laboratory and field experiences are true investigations (i.e., without known results), few invite collaboration among students, and fewer still are centered on interdisciplinary, contemporary problems. One solution is to incorporate investigative cases which shift the focus of student learning to being able to use scientific knowledge to frame questions and select strategies and tools to answer questions. Case-based learning helps reinforce the concept that a working knowledge of plant biology is requisite for successful problem solving in the learners’ personal and professional lives.

Introducing a Problem Space Approach to Undergraduate Problem Solving: Exploring the Phylogeography of the Invasive Species Tamarix.

Sam Donovan Tony Weisstein Kristin Jenkins
Sam Donovan, Tony Weisstein and Kristin Jenkins

Every year, some 30,000 species around the world go extinct. Of the 972 plant and animal species listed by the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1996, approximately 400 were endangered primarily due to invasions by introduced species.

Members of the genus Tamarix, commonly known as saltcedar or tamarisk, comprise the second worst plant invasion in the United States. Tamarix species are native to a region stretching from southern Europe and northern Africa across the Middle East and Asia to Japan. In the 1800s, several species were introduced to the U.S. as ornamentals and for erosion control. The genus's hardiness, wide dispersal, and high seed output helped it spread rapidly. It now occupies over one million acres of habitat across 34 states, and is the dominant streamside species throughout the American Southwest.

We will use the Tamarix Problem Space to introduce:

  1. How phylogeography (the analysis of genetic data in a geographic context) can help answer questions about species' population history and structure.
  2. How students can explore the genetic distribution of Tamarix in both the U.S. and Asia and assess the relative roles of contiguous range expansion, long-distance dispersal, and habitat fragmentation in determining its current distribution.
  3. The use of bioinformatics tools and methods to analyze sequence data and build phylogenetic trees in Biology Workbench.

Open Modeling and Simulation Resources for Problem Solving in Plant Biology.

Ethel D. Stanley Stacy Kiser
Ethel D. Stanley and Stacy Kiser

Join us as we interactively explore the following freely downloadable modeling and simulation software from the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium: Fractal Tree, Late Blight, Bee Visit, Developmental Selection, Mimulus Pollination, and Molecular.Genetics Explorer.



Simulations Screenshot

Using Statistics to Solve Problems in Science.

Ethel D. Stanley
Claudia Neuhauser

Most undergraduate biology majors take quite a bit Fernof basic quantitative coursework early on, but then they never see it again. When they encounter biological problems, full of massive amounts of data and analysis — they're not prepared. This session will introduce strategies and resources from Numbers Count, a HHMI funded project directed by the speaker. Join us as we explore examples of incorporating statistics in the classroom, laboratory and field.

Integrating Photosynthesis, Respiration, and Growth: An Excel-based Simulation of Wisconsin Fast Plant Growth.

Ethel D. Stanley
Yaffa Grossman

Beloit College students explored the linkages among photosynthesis, respiration, and plant growth by developing an Excel-based simulation model of plant growth. The model tests the hypothesis that the empirically determined daily organ growth potential (the daily maximum irreversible increase in organ dry mass), together with information about light availability, leaf-level photosynthetic rate, and organ respiration rates can be used to simulate plant growth. The model was parameterized using plants grown under 24 hour illumination for the first 12 days after planting. The pattern of simulated mass accumulation under 14 hours of light and 10 hours of darkness corresponded well to measured accumulation.

Desiccation Tolerance Problem Space: Evolution of Resurrection Plants

Kristin Jenkins
Kristin Jenkins

Please join us to explore a new problem space focused on the remarkable ability of some plants to undergo desiccation and revive with the addition of water.  This ability is ancient, and modern day descendants of the earliest land plants, such as mosses, retain this ability.  Vascular plants have lost desiccation tolerance in all tissues (with the exception of seeds, pollen and spores), but it has re-evolved in a few species.  The problem space includes gene expression data for desiccation sensitive and tolerant plants.  It also includes information on the evolutionary relationships of genes involved in desiccation tolerance. 

Seeing Plants: Visualization in Plant Biology.

Maura Flannery Ethel D. Stanley
Maura Flannery and Ethel D. Stanley

Please join us as we explore the uses of visualization for scientific discovery and education in plant biology. How does being visually literate in plant biology today differ from fifty years ago? …ten years ago? …one year ago? How do we help our students see the plant data in the image? This session will introduce strategies for visual learning, visual datasets, biophilia, and insights from the June 2007 Gordon Conference on Visualization in Science and Education.