The Value Of (Undergraduate) Research


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Presentation to GMU Chemistry Club on the importance of undergraduate research (January 28, 2010)

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The Value Of (Undergraduate) Research

  1. 1. The Value of (Undergraduate) Research Emil T. Chuck, Ph.D. Health Professions Advisor Term Assistant Professor of Biology Assistant Coordinator, UAP AAAS Science Careers Forum Advisor (2007-2009)
  2. 2. Brief comments <ul><li>Why should you have a research experience? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefits to institution (of course) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefits to your education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefits to your next step in education </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Starting points for opportunities </li></ul>
  3. 3. List some significant problems that you/society will face in the next 100 years. Why do you really want to do with your college degree?
  4. 4. Grand Challenges (Hilbert) <ul><li>Problem that has resisted (simple) solutions, and whose solution is expected to have far-reaching consequences. </li></ul><ul><li>Relevance: issues that affect everyone. </li></ul><ul><li>Transformative: Solutions involve significant systematic change and resources for innovation and validation. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Engineering Grand Challenges <ul><li>National Academy of Engineering video (6’30”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Engineering Grand Challenges <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Solar energy, fusion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Carbon sequestration, nitrogen cycle, clean water </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Urban infrastructure, nuclear terror, cybersecurity, personalized learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Medicine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Health informatics, better medicines, reverse-engineer the brain </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual reality, other tools of discovery </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Global Health Grand Challenges <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve vaccines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create new vaccines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control insect vectors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve nutrition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limit drug resistance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cure infection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measure health status </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. New Biology for the 21 st Century <ul><li>National Academies </li></ul>
  9. 9. Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (HHMI/AAMC 2009) <ul><li>Demonstrate both knowledge of and ability to use basic principles of mathematics and statistics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and biology needed for the application of the sciences to human health and disease; demonstrate observational and analytical skills and the ability to apply those skills and principles to biological situations. </li></ul><ul><li>Apply quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate understanding of the process of scientific inquiry , and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated . </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate knowledge of basic physical principles and their applications to the understanding of living systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate knowledge of basic principles of chemistry and some of their applications to the understanding of living systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate knowledge of how biomolecules contribute to the structure and function of cells . </li></ul><ul><li>Apply understanding of principles of how molecular and cell assemblies, organs, and organisms develop structure and carry out function . </li></ul><ul><li>Explain how organisms sense and control their internal environment and how they respond to external change . </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate an understanding of how the organizing principle of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of life on earth . </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Role and Value of the Basic Sciences in Medical Education (2/2010) <ul><li>The sciences are not simply a compendium of facts but an integrated approach to problem-solving, a framework for understanding perturbations of normal functions, and a means to predicting the potential outcomes. Study in the sciences contributes to training in logical thinking and developing an inquisitive mindset that is integral to effective clinical reasoning . </li></ul>Flexner Revisited: The Role and Value of the Basic Sciences in Medical Education. Acad Med 2010; 85: 349-355
  11. 11. Five curricular components to address the Grand Challenges <ul><li>1. Research experience. Conducting independent research related to a Grand Challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Interdisciplinary curriculum. Encouraging students to work at the intersections of fields such as public policy, business, law, ethics, human behavior, risk management, medicine and the sciences. Examples that span these disciplines with a coherent theme include Energy and the Environment, Sustainability, Uncertainty and Optimization, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Entrepreneurship. Preparing students to translate invention to innovation; to develop market ventures that scale to global solutions in the public interest. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Global dimension. Developing the students’ global perspective necessary to address challenges that are inherently global as well as to lead innovation in a global economy. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Service learning. Developing and deepening students’ social consciousness and their motivation to bring their technical expertise to bear on societal problems. Programs such as Engineers without Borders, or Engineering World Health may be adapted to satisfy this component and/or component 3. </li></ul>
  12. 12. At George Mason University… <ul><li>An impressive 97% of Mason graduates felt they were competent in analyzing work in their field and had sufficient knowledge about important work in their field. About 90% felt they were competent in conducting original research or creating original work in their field, and over one third of students thought they were “very competent” in creating original work and conducting original research in the field. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Benefits for scholarly efforts <ul><li>Practice and develop effective thinking and problem-solving skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Immerse yourself in terminology, technology, and culture of discovery. </li></ul><ul><li>Build self-confidence, collegial, and mentoring relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Bring relevance to textbook learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the “competitive” mindset. </li></ul><ul><li>Communication skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Required experience for graduate school (MS, PhD). </li></ul>
  14. 15. The Role and Value of the Basic Sciences in Medical Education (2/2010) <ul><li>[Premedical students should complete courses that] promote the development of thinking skills (e.g., problem solving, analytical thinking) and those that cultivated self-directed learning skills to help foster lifelong learning . </li></ul>Flexner Revisited: The Role and Value of the Basic Sciences in Medical Education. Acad Med 2010; 85: 349-355
  15. 16. Quality Enhancement Plan <ul><li>Fostering a Culture of Student Scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Timothy Born </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Opportunities <ul><li>iTunesU podcast (Others: “Applying to Summer Programs”) </li></ul><ul><li>Bulletin boards outside dept offices </li></ul><ul><li>UAP: </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook Fan: GMU Undergraduate Research </li></ul><ul><li>Blog: </li></ul><ul><li>Mason Wiki : Summer Research Opportunities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WebGuru database at NEU </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SACNAS website (student members preferred) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sigma Xi website </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search for undergraduate research opportunities at institutions of interest. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unadvertised” networking </li></ul>