Saturday, August 9, 2008

Research Link 2000: Bringing Research-based Experimental Systems to the Undergraduate Biology Curriculum

Research Link 2000 is a project that has brought together biology faculty from colleges and universities to select, develop and disseminate a group of field-tested, research-based systems and instructional materials for introductory biology courses. Its major objective is to promote research activities by students and faculty on all levels of the undergraduate curriculum.

What Need Does It Serve?

The Council on Undergraduate Research believes that education is best served by faculty-student collaborative research combined with investigative teaching strategies. Involving undergraduates in research activities is a very valuable learning experience, whether it is part of the standard laboratory course or a special project with a professor. Biology departments that adopt one or a few research systems as the core of a research-based curriculum will derive many benefits. Faculty will be able to collaborate on their research efforts, equipment costs will be reduced, lab courses will have a common research-based core, and students will become better prepared for advanced research studies due to their prior experience with the system.

How Was It Developed?

Research Link 2000 was funded by a three-year National Science Foundation grant to the Council on Undergraduate Research. The first phase of the project was held at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, November 6-9, 1997. Sixty-five biology faculty members from more than forty different universities and colleges presented seminars describing in detail research systems that have potential for introducing research-based labs into the undergraduate curriculum. Ten research systems were selected for further development at the Research Link 2000 Workshop, held at Carleton College, August 5-9, 1998. During this second phase of the project, system authors, project team members, and Carleton faculty and students reviewed each system and representative experiments. Each author demonstrated the research system and received suggestions as to how the system could be modified to accommodate the objectives of Research Link 2000. Guidelines were adopted for the design of the web site.

The final formal phase of the Research Link 2000 Project took place on the campus of Ferris State University, August 12-15, 1999. The purpose of the institute was to assist faculty in adopting one or two of research systems at their home institution. Twenty-five institutional teams were selected to participate based on proposals that outlined how they planned to utilize the systems and the anticipated impact on the curriculum. Research Link 2000 is creating a new kind of learning community and resource center to support the introduction of more research-based experimentation in the undergraduate biology curriculum.

Experimental Systems


Additional Model Systems


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