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Assistant Professor and Program Chair for Biotechnology
I am the program chair for biotechnology in Region 2 on the South Bend campus.
Our biotechnology program has become what is called a "PURE:" a program undergraduate research experience. This happened as a result of a confluence from our involvement in the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative, the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, and student participation in the University of Notre Dame's Nanotech Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program and the School of Biological Sciences, Research for Experience for Undergraduates Program.
As I am sure you know undergraduate research is one of the "High Impact" Educational Practices identified by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. An undergraduate research experience (a "URE") actually subsumes the other practices that the AACLU identified: it is in essence problem-based learning (PBL) and requires collaborative learning and the institution of a learning communities.
A PURE is constructed of a number of "CUREs" or "Course Undergraduate Research Experiences." In the BIOT program our incoming students in BIOL 105 Molecular and Cellular Process are engaged in a URE/PBL designed by the Society for Science (SEA) at the University of Pittsburgh where students discover and study bacterial viruses from soil and isolate the virus genome. The genomes will be sent off for sequencing over the break and then the students will investigate their structure on a comparative molecular level through bioinformatics in BIOL 105's companion course, BIOL 107 Diversity of Life.
In our introductory biotechnology course, BIOT 100/BIOT 280, course students perform the R&D to refine a biomanufacturing system to produce a green fluorescent protein as a model for pharmaceutical production. In BIOT 211/212 our Analytical Methods course, students are in discovery mode again seeking to new antibiotics made by soil bacteria. In BIOT 201 Cell Culture and Cellular Processes, students will be involved (just learned this myself) in the study of mouse stem cells. Finally, in BIOT 221, Molecular Biology, students design and build genetic circuits to essentially program bacteria to become useful biosensors for environmental hazards (pathogenic bacteria, arsenic, human waste water contamination). In addition their are two extracurricular research groups that fall under the Biotech Club banner that are involved in breast cancer research or bioengineering projects.
I have not published any guides yet - please check back soon!