Targeted Infusion Project: Infusing Quantitative Biology Methods into Cognate and Upper Division Courses: Enhancement of the Life Sciences Curriculum at Fisk University
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. The project at Fisk University seeks to incorporate quantitative biology methods and embed authentic research into lecture and laboratory components of cognate and upper division life science courses. Fisk University, an HBCU, has over 98% students of color, and more than 90% of these students are African-Americans, resulting in a direct impact on this population. The proposed project will provide students with a strong foundation in core scientific skills, particularly quantitative skills such as computation, modeling, problem solving, and data analysis. The proposed activities are expected to increase students' interest in STEM related fields, increase retention and progression in STEM disciplines, and will serve as a possible replicable model for other institutions that share a similar mission.
The overall goal of the project is to innovate the curriculum and pedagogies employed in order to better prepare students in the life sciences for an increasingly multidisciplinary research landscape. This goal will be accomplished through the following specific objectives: 1) develop an introductory physics for life sciences course which strikes an appropriate balance between physics core concepts and life science applications; 2) create a biophysical chemistry course that focuses on the structure, thermodynamics, and kinetics of biological macromolecules; and 3) develop modules for upper level biology courses that reinforce the connections between life and physical sciences. This interdisciplinary approach will synergize with several ongoing initiatives at Fisk University and have a transformative effect on student training for careers in STEM disciplines.