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Preparing Students for the Complexity of the Systems Medicine Field through a Research Experience For Undergraduates (REU)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1251.1 - 26.1251.13



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Paper Authors


Nolan Alexander LaSota University of Pittsburgh

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Nolan LaSota is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh. He plans on majoring in chemical engineering.

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Robert S. Parker University of Pittsburgh


Cheryl A Bodnar University of Pittsburgh

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Cheryl A. Bodnar, PhD, CTDP is an Assistant Professor (Teaching Track) in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She obtained her certification as a Training and Development Professional (CTDP) from the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) in 2010, providing her with a solid background in instructional design, facilitation and evaluation.

Dr. Bodnar’s research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques in undergraduate classes (problem based learning, games and simulations, etc.) as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering as well as broader engineering curriculum. In addition, she is actively engaged in the development of a variety of informal science education approaches with the goal of exciting and teaching K-12 students about regenerative medicine and its potential.

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Preparing Students for the Complexity of the Systems Medicine Field through a Research Experience For Undergraduates (REU)Over the next few decades, the total cost of healthcare is anticipated to increase dramatically.Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery via model-based systemsengineering methods can slow this increase. One method to accomplish this is through theemployment of engineers and scientists that have an understanding of mathematical modeling,biology, and clinical practice and that can see how these fields interact to improve clinicaloutcomes. This field, also known as “systems medicine”, is an area that is currently underservedwithin the undergraduate education community. To address this deficit, an investment of time,resources and opportunities for student research experiences will be necessary if we hope to beable to prepare students for challenges that they will face when embarking in this field.Over the course of the past three years a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)program has been run at XXXX. This program consisted of students being paired with a mentoron a specific technical project over a ten week period while receiving professional developmentopportunities through a weekly workshop series. The professional development opportunitiesincluded skills that are relevant to engineering or scientific careers such as scientific writing andpresentation skills but also provided students with background on the diverse nature of thesystems medicine field. Students also participated in a local undergraduate research postersession and provided a final presentation on their research results.To determine the effectiveness of the REU program for preparing students for the complexity ofthe systems medicine field, students completed concept maps of their vision of what the systemsmedicine field encompassed both at the start and end of their ten week research experience.Completion of the concept map was done subsequent to a training exercise that was performed tofamiliarize students with concept maps and how they are constructed. Utilizing the IntegratedRubric for Scoring Concept Maps1, it was possible to score the concept maps on the basis ofcomprehensiveness, organization and correctness. Each concept map was scored by twoindividuals and an inter-rater reliability score was calculated. Concept map scores from the endof the REU program were then compared to those from the start of the program to determine ifany significant change in understanding of the complexity of the systems medicine field occurredas result of students’ participation in the REU program.

LaSota, N. A., & Parker, R. S., & Bodnar, C. A. (2015, June), Preparing Students for the Complexity of the Systems Medicine Field through a Research Experience For Undergraduates (REU) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24588

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