Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Vernon Ruffin - Virginia Union University
During the second year of the Virginia Union University Undergraduate Research Training Program in the Biological Sciences Target Infusion Project (NSF Award #1623357), the second course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE)-infused course was implemented focusing on the neurophysiology research being conducted by the co-PI, Dr. Vernon A. Ruffin. Undergraduate Biology majors enrolled in two courses were given opportunities to process C57/BL6 mouse brains obtained from collaborating using immunohistochemistry and Western Blot techniques. The CURE-infused section of general biology also employed a comprehensive approach to aid student comprehension of key concepts. Reading was emphasized and regular formative assessment was employed to monitor student progress. A suite of supplemental materials (including PowerPoint lecture slides, videos, and practice questions) were also made available to reinforce concepts introduced in lectures. Students are examined using the standardized test that accompanies the required text. In the laboratory section of the CURE, the co-PI?s research involving transmembrane proteins was drawn upon to reinforce neurophysiology concepts from the lecture. CURE students were also required to find and review scientific journal articles on relevant neuropsychology topics. Students summarized the journal articles in a written document and were encouraged to present the journals as part of the STEM Research Journal Club, another initiative of this TIP grant. Students successfully mastered key skills associated with performing the western blot technique, including weighing chemicals, making solutions, pH calibration, pipetting, and spectrophotometry. In addition, some students learned tissue sectioning and immunohistochemistry. As a result of exposure to authentic research at an early stage in their careers, two students from the General Biology course who originally identified having interests in veterinarian science persisted in research after the semester ended and participated in summer research activities. These students presented posters on their research findings at the 2018 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). As a result of these efforts and growing student interest in research, the co-PI has been able to establish a functional neurophysiology laboratory at VUU.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF Award #1623357
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,