“Authentic Research” is being incorporated into the introductory laboratories of Chemistry and Biology through funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant in the College of Literature, Science and Arts at the University of Michigan. Faculty research projects are being taken into the teaching laboratories moving away from “the cookbook” lab experience. Students will learn same lab techniques encountered in the standard lab sections, but in the context of faculty led research projects. Creating a research based laboratory experience will give students the opportunity to get a hands on experience in how real science is conducted.
A variety of research streams are offered throughout the academic year as alternatives to the normal laboratory experience. The first research stream with Prof. Thomas Schmidt in the introductory Biology Lab (Bio 173), focuses on understanding the human microbiome, specifically the students’ own microbiome by characterizing the bacteria, measuring activity, and identifying how the composition of the microbiome can be managed. Another Bio 173 stream with Prof. Timothy James experiments with yeast evolution using the most recent genetic analysis techniques. A third Bio 173 stream with Prof. Ken Cadigan explores fly genetics to study cell signaling pathways. In the introductory Chemistry Lab (Chem 125/126) one research stream with Associate Prof. Stephen Maldonado focuses on novel materials (perovskite) to increase efficiency of solar cell technology. An additional stream investigating snow chemistry with Assistant Prof. Kerri Pratt has students measuring the chemical composition of snow and determining the effects of road salting and vehicle combustion on snow collected in Michigan. In Chem 216 Prof. John Wolfe has begun a medicinal chemistry stream where students synthesize derivatives of a new anti-cancer molecule. During the spring/summer term at the UM-Biological station new streams of both Chem 125/126 and Bio 173 focusing on specific environmental issues are offered.
More research streams are currently in development to give students a larger selection of research based course sections to choose from.