New CURE Courses Lead Curricular Changes in Biology

Student in Bio 195a fall 2019

Students in Katie Dobkowski’s Bio 195a CURE class explored and collected observations about the Maine rocky shore on Bailey Island at Lands End.

In fall 2019, the Department of Biology is excited to kick off a substantive change to its introductory biology curriculum with the introduction of two CURE courses taught by Don Dearborn and Katie Dobkowski. CURE, which stands for Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences, is an evidenced-based pedagogy which teaches fundamental concepts in STEM disciplines using a collaborative, research-based approach in the lab. Moreover, this approach is recognized nationally as a student-centered environment that can increase retention of all students and enhances student learning through mentorship by faculty and the development of critical thinking and intellectual independence.  In each CURE course students will develop research skills through open-ended, authentic experimentation or observations of the natural world. Students also gain experience by reading scientific literature, formulating and testing hypotheses, analyzing data, interpreting results, communicating in a disciplinary style, and working in teams. After the initial roll out in the fall, additional CUREs will be taught during the winter term. The CURE courses replace Bio 190 (Organismal Biology) which was taught for the last time in Winter 2019.


Fall 2019

Bio 195B – Don Dearborn is teaching Host-Parasite Evolution, which is focused on how hosts and parasites interact to shape each other’s traits, with roots in ecology, evolution, immunology, and life history theory.

Katie Dobkowski is offering Bio 195A – Marine Biology in a Changing Ocean, which addresses the living (including humans) and nonliving influences on organisms that live in marine environments including topics encompassing ecology, evolution, and natural history.

Winter 2020

Bio 195CSymbiotic Microalgae (A. Hill and M. Hill)

Bio195D: Living in a Microbial World (K. Palin)

Bio 195E: Sponge Fluid Dynamics (A. Mountcastle)

About the featured image: A 3D printed model of a simple sponge colony is observed for flow characteristics in a laminar flow flume in Andrew Mountcastle’s Bio 195 course on sponge fluid dynamics. Florescent particles in the water allow tracking of flow in, around, and through the colony which can be recorded as video and then analyzed on a computer.