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Education Report for March/April 2007

The AIBS Education Office provides analysis and communication for the AIBS Board, Headquarters Office, and Education Committee on issues of import to the AIBS membership and the larger scientific community. Reports are broadly disseminated by email every few months to AIBS membership leaders and contacts. Special reports are sent more frequently as needed. We have archived these reports here for your information and attention. Read about each report's contents below, then click to read the complete text.

AIBS Annual Meeting 2007: Evolutionary Biology and Human Health

AIBS will mark its 60th anniversary at its 2007 AIBS annual meeting, "Evolutionary Biology and Human Health," to be held 14 and 15 May 2007 in Washington, DC, at the Capital Hilton Hotel. The program chair is 2007 AIBS president Douglas Futuyma, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Plenary speakers and discussion groups will approach the meeting's topic from a variety of crosscutting themes involving science, education, and public policy. Principles and methods of evolutionary biology are becoming increasingly important in many aspects of health science, among them understanding the human genome, the normal functions and malfunctions of human genes, and the origin and evolution of infectious diseases. These are among the topics addressed in sessions on infectious diseases, genes and genomics, and human adaptation and malfunction. The rest of the meeting's program will be rounded out by events such as a contributed poster session, a diversity lunch, and the AIBS awards ceremony.

Speakers include Eric Green, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health; Edward Holmes, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, The Pennsylvania State University; Rustom Antia, Emory University, Atlanta; Carlos Bustamante, Cornell University; Douglas C. Wallace, Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics, University of California at Irvine; Sarah Tishkoff, University of Maryland; Martin Nowak, Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University; and Randolph Nesse, Evolution and Human Adaptation Program, The University of Michigan.

The AIBS meeting will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Natural Science Collections Alliance (requires separate registration, see the NSC Alliance meeting Web site). The AIBS and NSC Alliance meetings take place immediately after the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) conference and general assembly (requires separate registration; see the IUBS meeting Web site), 9 -12 May, also at the Capital Hilton.

Following the AIBS annual meeting, the AIBS Council of member societies and organizations will meet at the Capital Hilton, 15-16 May (contact: rogr...@aibs.org).

For the AIBS annual meeting program and registration information, including poster submissions, please visit the annual meeting Web site at www.aibs.org/annual-meeting/annual_meeting_2007.html.

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Science for Girls

A new Web site sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, www.iwaswondering.com, is intended to showcase the notable accomplishments of contemporary women in science and spotlight for young girls the varied and intriguing careers of some of today's most prominent scientists. The site draws from a 10-volume biographical series entitled "Women's Adventures in Science," which includes biographies of, among others, Amy Vedder, a wildlife biologist who studies gorillas in Africa; Nancy Wexler, a neuropsychologist who has researched Huntington's disease; and Cynthia Breazeal, a designer of robots that can work cooperatively with people. Each of the profiled women participated directly in the creation of her biography and the Web site by explaining her scientific specialty in ways that will inform and engage young minds.

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Estuarine Education Survey

TERC, an educational research and development organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Estuarine Research Reserve System are developing teaching and professional development materials about estuaries, watersheds, and related concepts. Teachers and informal educators are invited to help by sharing thoughts and opinions about these topics in an online needs assessment survey. The survey is available in English and Spanish. All respondents will be entered in a raffle for memberships and educational materials donated by various professional organizations. For more information, and to complete the survey, please go to www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=359273229697

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International Polar Year 2007-2008

1 March 2007 marked the start of International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, a world-wide scientific program aimed at creating a better understanding of the Arctic and Antarctic regions and their effect on Earth’s climate. IPY 2007-2008 will include many educational programs and initiatives, including making available data from the polar regions in real time to students and teachers. For more information, and for links to the educational resources, please visit www.ipy.org.

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CUR Report Release: Developing and Sustaining a Research-Supportive Curriculum: A Compendium of Successful Practices

On 21 February 2007, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) convened a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to address issues affecting America’s competitiveness in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, and to discuss ways in which education and research at the undergraduate level can advance our country’s competitiveness in these fields. This event also marked the release of a new CUR publication, Developing and Sustaining a Research-Supportive Curriculum: A Compendium of Successful Practices. This report, as stated in a CUR press release, “emphasizes the importance of the collective efforts of the undergraduate community to integrate research and education. By collecting and disseminating multiple examples of effective research-supportive undergraduate programs, CUR aims to encourage faculty and institutions to continue to seek creative, useful, and significant ways to promote ‘learning through research.’”
The full press release can be found online at www.cur.org/pdf/pressrelease.pdf.
The report can be purchased on the CUR Web site: www.cur.org.

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NRC Report Release: Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8

On 12 March 2007, the National Research Council’s Board on Science Education held a symposium to mark the release of a major new report, Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. This report brings together findings from research in cognitive and developmental psychology, science education, and the history and philosophy of science to synthesize what is known about how children in grades K-8 learn the ideas and practices of science. The symposium featured members of the committee who authored the report, as well as other distinguished experts who discussed the report’s findings and the implications for education, policy, and research.

For more information and to order a copy of the report, please visit the NRC Board of Education’s Web site: www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/.

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Over the Fence: Mathematicians and Biologists Talk about Bridging the Curricular Divide

The Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) at Ohio State University will be hosting a workshop on the interface between mathematics and biology education on 1-2 June 2007.

This workshop will bring together mathematics and biology educators who have developed successful biology-in-mathematics curricula with those who wish to develop such programs. The major goals of the conference are to:

  • Understand how to incorporate applications of and connections with biology into the undergraduate mathematics curriculum.
  • Understand how to accomplish this in different types of institutions, from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities, by addressing opportunities for and benefits of, as well as barriers and impediments to, cross-disciplinary curriculum development in each of the types of institutions.
  • Stimulate creation and revision of curricula that integrate mathematics and biology, the results of which will be published in MBI conference proceedings.
  • Initiate and foster a continuing learning community.

The conference will consist of plenary and invited talks by educators who have been successful in bridging mathematics and biology in the undergraduate curriculum. Conference participants will consist of collaborative pairs of mathematics and biology educators who have plans to pursue such a project at their own institutions.

Specific topics to be addressed include the following:

  • Who should teach these courses, mathematical biologists or biological mathematicians?
  • Developing mathematics projects for biology students and biology projects for mathematics students.
  • Presentation of models of successfully instituted biology-in-mathematics and mathematics-in-biology programs.
  • Issues related to professional collaboration: What opportunities are available? What kind of “cross-training” is needed and how can one do it? How can communication, modes of inquiry, and pedagogical differences be overcome?
  • The politics of curriculum change.
  • What are some strategies for incorporating biology applications into mathematics courses that have multiple audiences, e.g., calculus or introductory statistics?
  • What should the response be to the issues raised in the biology and mathematics communities by the appearance of the Bio 2010 report?
  • From biologists’ perspective, what is the role and future impact of mathematics in the biology curriculum, and where in the curriculum?
  • What software packages are available to support collaborative work?
  • How can undergraduate curricula in mathematical biology meet the needs of industry?

For more information, and to apply, please visit www.mbi.osu.edu/2006/eduwdescription.html.

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Student Pugwash USA's 14th National Conference on Science and Social Responsibility: Promoting the Integrity of Science

Student Pugwash USA, a national nonprofit organization that promotes the socially responsible use of science and technology in the 21st century, will be hosting its National Conference on Science and Social Responsibility on 12-15 April 2007 in Washington, DC. The theme will be “Promoting the Integrity of Science.”

Researchers worldwide are grappling with issues of integrity surrounding politics in science, conflicts of interest, falsified research, the peer review process, and protections for whistleblowers. Engage with other inquisitive and motivated students in in-depth discussion and debate on these cutting-edge issues and on the development of a nationwide student initiative to promote the integrity of science.

For more information, and to register, please visit www.spusa.org/events/national_conference/index.html.

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College Courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) still has openings in several summer 2007 courses for college credit.

For 40 years, SML has specialized in undergraduate education in marine science and sustainability. For summer 2007, SML will offer more than two dozen college credit courses at its facility on Appledore Island, Maine. These courses feature small class sizes and an experiential learning environment where everyone learns by first-hand observation. The close-knit community created each summer on Appledore Island gives SML the feeling of a residential college, where even a casual conversation with a faculty member or teaching assistant can turn into a life-changing one. Being on an offshore island also means that every class includes adventure and learning opportunities far beyond any normal classroom. Please take a minute to review some of SML’s exciting offerings at www.sml.cornell.edu/college/pc-cs.htm.

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NSTA National Conference on Science Education

The National Science Teachers Association's 55th annual National Conference on Science Education was held 29 March-1 April 2007 in St. Louis, Missouri. The theme of this year's conference was “Science: A River of Connections.” For more information about this event, go to www.nsta.org/stlouis.

Highlights from this year's conference included the Toyota Partner Robot, a prototype, humanlike robot. Toyota hopes that one day the robot, which is still under development, will play a role in different fields such as automobile manufacturing and elderly care. See www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/nsta_story.php?news_story_ID=53682.

Also, renowned deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard was the guest speaker for the general session on Thursday, 29 March at the Americas Center. See
www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/nsta_story.php?news_story_ID=53389.

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