Issue 06 (Winter 2021)
Bio 298 – Research in Cell & Developmental Biology (Winter 2021) , was a course about the scientific research process. It was a lab course conducted fully remotely with students studying their own model organisms and scientific instruments they received in an activity kit mailed to them before the course. The organisms included marigolds and nasturtiums sent in the form of seeds, and brine shrimp sent in the form of naturally dormant dried juveniles commonly called “eggs” and sold as aquarium fish food. Students received their organisms, a paper microscope called a Foldscope, and a variety of other materials with which they carried out experiments they thought up themselves. Subjects ranged from tests of local water quality, to effects of climate change, to effects of vitamin metabolites on development in plants and animals. Obviously, paper microscopes and cell phone cameras are a poor substitute for the cutting-edge microscopes and digital cameras in Wheaton's Imaging Center for Undergraduate Collaboration, but COVID-19 has isolated us from each other and from Wheaton's outstanding research laboratories. Despite the pandemic conditions, Research in Cell & Developmental Biology gave students the opportunity to gather sufficient quantifiable data to test authentic hypotheses on real-world problems that they could then analyze using state-of-the-art image analysis tools, literature search tools, and reference manager tools accessible online.
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