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Bridges To The Future – Infusing Cutting Edge Research Into Undergraduate Biotechnology Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Bioengineering laboratories: Bringing research into the classroom

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.322.1 - 12.322.7



Permanent URL

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Paper Authors

author page

Rupa Iyer University of Houston (CoE)

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Bridges to the Future - Infusing Cutting Edge Research into Undergraduate Biotechnology Curriculum


The last several decades in biology have seen tremendous research in recombinant DNA technology and its applications in medicine, agriculture and the environment. The next century will see the evolution of new technologies needed for bioprocessing therapeutic drugs, proteins and enzymes generated through recombinant DNA technology. These new technologies have profoundly transformed the way scientists design, perform and analyze experiments. As biological concepts and models become more quantitative, biological research is increasingly dependent on concepts and methods drawn from other scientific disciplines. Thus as biology becomes more quantitative and systematic, it will become a foundational science for engineering similar to physics, chemistry and mathematics.

The long term goal of this project is to design and disseminate interdisciplinary teaching material that will bridge different disciplines and provide an increasing understanding of the relevance of concepts of chemistry, engineering, and computing in biology. The objectives are to: (1) Develop an interdisciplinary biotechnology curriculum for Bachelor’s in biotechnology (2) Design and disseminate project-based modules that will guide students through the process of scientific discovery to commercial production to enhance investigative and collaborative learning and implement the parallel process of assessment for this approach to verify student learning.

Due to modular nature of our project, the model can be easily adapted by other institutions nationally and therefore has excellent potential to reach a large number of students.

1. Introduction

The field of Biotechnology has become more quantitative and interdisciplinary as research in biotechnology continues to grow at a tremendous rate with broader and complex applications in medicine, agriculture, the environment and nanobiotechnolgy. The challenge in biotechnology education therefore lies in designing new curricula that will provide students with a breath of knowledge and skills across a variety of scientific and technological disciplines to better prepare them for employment in this rapidly changing field 9.

2. Rationale

In spite of efforts by academic institutions to change curricular materials to include concepts from physics, chemistry, engineering and math, undergraduate biology education has not kept up with the rapid changes in life science research in the past two decades and our undergraduate students are at a distinct disadvantage since they lack interdisciplinary skills to face the rapidly changing practices in life science research (as pointed out in the BIO 2010 report from the National Research Council) 1. Therefore, in order to prepare our undergraduate life science students to be future research biologists, we need to transform undergraduate education (as recommended by the same report). This will require life science majors to develop and

Iyer, R. (2007, June), Bridges To The Future – Infusing Cutting Edge Research Into Undergraduate Biotechnology Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3020

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