Dear SW PULSE members,
One of the VC recommendations is to increase student participation in research, especially for undergraduates. In 2013 Yale launched the Small World Initiative (SWI), where students collect soil samples and isolate antibiotic producing bacteria. The framework can be adapted not only for a microbiology course, but also molecular biology and general biology.
In its 2nd year of implementation, only us (National University) and CSU Humboldt (this summer, not started yet) are partners in California. Pilot results indicate the framework can be adapted to a number of course setups and schedules. Yale provides lab manual material (which can be adapted), protocols, as well as free sequencing of PCR products for partners.
Yale has held 2 onsite trainings, but I think the future will be more e-training and direct regional networking. Our school has implemented SWI in Costa Mesa and San Diego. I am looking for faculty in the region interested in becoming involved, as the initiative is based on "buddy system" now, with the established partners supporting new members.
While the framework has been set up for the biology part, there are lots of possibilities for expanding the coursework to include chemistry. Ideally, students could study their extracts, obtained in a general bio course, in a subsequent organic chemistry course. Or have them as independent research projects.
There is a number of websites for information, such as http://smallworldinitiative.org/; also there is an open Facebook group. Results have been presented at ASBMB, CURE, ASM-CUE, and ASM meetings (that I know of).
Please contact me if you are interested, firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to expand this initiative in our region.
Ana Maria Barral
Thanks, Anna Maria! I will pass this on to our Microbiologist and Intro lab director.