Integrating Research into the Curriculum: A Low-Cost Strategy for Promoting Undergraduate Research
- Sanchita HatiSanchita HatiDepartment of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 101 Roosevelt Avenue, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54702, United StatesMore by Sanchita Hati
- Sudeep Bhattacharyya*
Undergraduate research provides students with hands-on training where they can apply classroom learning to solve original research problems and develop new skills. It not only enhances the problem solving and analytical skills of the students, but also promotes collaboration and teamwork among them. Additionally, it fosters an open learning environment that encourages students to respect diversity and inclusivity. Considering the invaluable benefits of engaging undergraduates in collaborative research, we have integrated authentic discovery-guided classroom projects in our chemistry curriculum. A project-based biophysical chemistry laboratory course, which is offered to the biochemistry and molecular biology majors in their senior year, is described in this chapter. For this biophysical chemistry course, the theoretical study of the relationship between structure, dynamics, and function of proteins is integrated with the discovery-based labs utilizing computer modeling and simulations. Modern computational tools are introduced and computer-based laboratory protocols including novel research projects are developed to help the students gain an in-depth understanding of the role of proteins’ dynamics in their function. The students analyze their own findings in the term papers, aiming to go beyond the standard article summary or literature review. Finally, results of these research projects are communicated in peer-reviewed journals.