A unique large-scale undergraduate research experience in molecular systems biology for non-mathematics majors

Kappler, Ulrike, Rowland, Susan L. and Pedwell, Rhianna K. (2017) A unique large-scale undergraduate research experience in molecular systems biology for non-mathematics majors. Biochemistry and Molecular Biolody Education, 45 3: 235-248. doi:10.1002/bmb.21033

Author Kappler, Ulrike
Rowland, Susan L.
Pedwell, Rhianna K.
Title A unique large-scale undergraduate research experience in molecular systems biology for non-mathematics majors
Journal name Biochemistry and Molecular Biolody Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1539-3429
Publication date 2017-05-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/bmb.21033
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 45
Issue 3
Start page 235
End page 248
Total pages 14
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Subject 1303 Biochemistry
1312 Molecular Biology
Abstract Systems biology is frequently taught with an emphasis on mathematical modeling approaches. This focus effectively excludes most biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology students, who are not mathematics majors. The mathematical focus can also present a misleading picture of systems biology, which is a multi-disciplinary pursuit requiring collaboration between biochemists, bioinformaticians, and mathematicians. This article describes an authentic large-scale undergraduate research experience (ALURE) in systems biology that incorporates proteomics, bacterial genomics, and bioinformatics in the one exercise. This project is designed to engage students who have a basic grounding in protein chemistry and metabolism and no mathematical modeling skills. The pedagogy around the research experience is designed to help students attack complex datasets and use their emergent metabolic knowledge to make meaning from large amounts of raw data. On completing the ALURE, participants reported a significant increase in their confidence around analyzing large datasets, while the majority of the cohort reported good or great gains in a variety of skills including “analysing data for patterns” and “conducting database or internet searches.” An environmental scan shows that this ALURE is the only undergraduate-level system-biology research project offered on a large-scale in Australia; this speaks to the perceived difficulty of implementing such an opportunity for students. We argue however, that based on the student feedback, allowing undergraduate students to complete a systems-biology project is both feasible and desirable, even if the students are not maths and computing majors.
Keyword Curriculum design development and implementation
Systems biology
Genomics proteomics bioinformatics
Integration of research into undergraduate teaching
Laboratory exercises
Metabolic pathways and regulation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID # LE12-2279
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation Publications
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 04 Jan 2017, 20:58:38 EST by Dr Susan Rowland on behalf of School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences