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Topic: Integrating Undergraduates into Educationally Meaningful Research Programs and Courses
Seminar Date & Time: Monday, October 3, 2011 @ 2:30 pm
Location: Koch Institute Auditorium
Professor Jeffrey Miller is in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Miller is widely recognized for his efforts to engage undergraduates in research from the start, which he believes is the key to attracting students to careers in science. He has been involved in the creation of numerous innovative biology courses at UCLA aimed at making biology relevant and interesting to students. One example is “I, Microbiologist” – a discovery-based research undergraduate course for first-year students created by Professor Miller and Professor Erin Sanders-Lorenz at UCLA. The inspiration for this course was Court TV’s “I, Detective” program which allows viewers the opportunity to solve real crimes by following clues and analyzing evidence. In “I, Microbiologist” students work in teams to collect soil samples, identify the organisms present in the samples through DNA sequencing, and build phylogenetic trees using these sequences. In this course students learn how to devise hypotheses, perform experiments and obtain results in order to better understand key biology concepts. The course enables students to gain valuable hands-on research experience and build critical thinking skills. This work has resulted into a new textbook: I, Microbiologist: a Discovery-Based Course in Microbial Ecology and Molecular Evolution.