Emory University in Atlanta, GA
Join a diverse community of innovative educators from several national projects at the HHMI Quantitative Biology Conference. Choose from ten working sessions on introductory statistics, data exploration, bioinformatics, simulations, and gaming as we focus on undergraduate quantitative reasoning. Featured speakers include John R. Jungck, University of Delaware, Claudia Neuhauser, University of Minnesota Rochester, and Lou Gross, NIMBioS.
In response to the call of Bio 2010 for integrating quantitative skills into undergraduate biology education, 30 HHMI program directors at the 2006 HHMI Program Directors Meeting established a consortium to investigate, implement, develop, and disseminate best practices resulting from the integration of math and biology. With the assistance of an HHMI funded mini-grant, led by Karl Joplin of East Tennessee State University, and support in institutional HHMI grants at Emory, Arizona and University of Delaware, these institutions held a series of summer institutes and workshops to document progress toward and address the challenges of implementing a more quantitative approach to undergraduate biology education.
The consortium developed four draft white papers, a wiki site and a listserv. One major outcome of these meetings was a special issue of Cell Biology Education- Life Science Education. Many of the papers in this issue emerged from or were influenced by these meetings.
The national scientific and academic community has issued repeated clarion calls for revising college biology curricula and the mathematical and computational preparation for future life scientists to reflect the tools and practices of science (AAAS, 2009; NRC, 2003).
Although only a small percentage of students who initially enroll in our life science and mathematics courses will become researchers or physicians, it is essential that these students develop fluency in the quantitative tools used in science (Association of American Medical Colleges and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2009; Gross, 2000; Labov et al., 2010; NRC, 2009).
For prospective researchers or physicians we urge the community to review the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians: Report of the AAMC-HHMI Committee (AAMC and HHMI, 2009) and begin to develop lists of quantitative competencies for entry into graduate programs in the life sciences that parallel the recommendations for future physicians.
The other students who enroll in our courses deserve our attention, too. They need quantitative literacy skills that will allow them to become scientifically literate citizens who are able to weigh competing claims and make responsible decisions. Perhaps this group deserves even more of our attention, since they will become voters, lawyers, policy makers, and leaders that decide on what science should be funded.
64% of participants suggested more and longer workshops with a focus on Problem Spaces, PBL and Cases, curriculum development and sharing materials, sources of funding, and perhaps a focus on specific courses. Other suggestions called for extending the repository of materials in one of two ways, either through some existing website or wiki or by establishing a new online journal. Potential challenges to the implementation of these ideas included finding reviewers, ensuring classroom testing of materials, and cost.
Join us as we continue to develop strategies and connect on quantitative biology!