ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-160202-3
Using Zebrafish to Implement a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience to Study Teratogenesis in Two Biology Laboratory Courses
Sarmah, S., Chism, G.W., Vaughan, M.A., Muralidharan, P., Marrs, J.A., Marrs, K.A.
A course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) spanning three semesters was introduced into freshman and sophomore biology classes, with the hypothesis that participation in a CURE affects skills in research, communication, and collaboration, which may help students persist in science. Student research projects were centered on the hypothesis that nicotine and caffeine exposure during early development affects gastrulation and heart development in zebrafish. First, freshmen generated original data showing distinct effects of embryonic nicotine and caffeine exposure on zebrafish heart development and function. Next, Cell Biology laboratory students continued the CURE studies and identified novel teratogenic effects of nicotine and caffeine during gastrulation. Finally, new freshmen continued the CURE research, examining additional toxicant effects on development. Students designed new protocols, made measurements, presented results, and generated high-quality preliminary data that were studied in successive semesters. By implementing this project, the CURE extended faculty research and provided a scalable model to address national goals to involve more undergraduates in authentic scientific research. In addition, student survey results support the hypothesis that CUREs provide significant gains in student ability to (1) design experiments, (2) analyze data, and (3) make scientific presentations, translating into high student satisfaction and enhanced learning.
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