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Does the Biology we Teach Reflect the Biology we Do

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Title: Does the Biology we Teach Reflect the Biology we Do


1
Does the Biology we Teach Reflect the Biology we
Do?
  • A View for the 21st Century

James P. Collins, Assistant Director for
Biological Sciences National Science
Foundation Transforming Undergraduate Biology
Education Mobilizing the Community for Change 16
July 2009

2
  • Science Priorities
  • A Time of Change, Opportunity, and Challenge
  • Biological Sciences
  • Life in Transition
  • Mobilizing the Community for Change
  • Innovating in the Midst of Excellence

3
Shifting Science Priorities




Source http//www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/04/27/Th
e-Necessity-of-Science/
4
Opportunity
  • a renewed commitment to education in
    mathematics and science American students will
    move from the middle to the top of the pack in
    science and math over the next decade for we know
    that the nation that out-educates us today will
    out-compete us tomorrow.  And I don't intend to
    have us out-educated. 
  • President Barack Obama
  • National Academy of Sciences 146th Annual Meeting
  • Washington DC, April 27, 2009

5
Opportunity and a Challenge
6
  • Almost a third of ordinary Americans say human
    beings have existed in their current form since
    the beginning of time, a view held by only 2
    percent of the scientists.
  • Only about half of the public agrees that people
    are behind climate change, and 11 percent does
    not believe there is any warming at all.

7
  • According to the survey, about a third of
    Americans think there is lively scientific debate
    on both topics in fact, there is no credible
    scientific challenge to the theory of evolution
    and there is little doubt that human activity is
    altering the chemistry of the atmosphere in ways
    that threaten global climate.

8
  • Science Priorities
  • A Time of Change, Opportunity, and Challenge
  • Biological Sciences
  • Life in Transition
  • Mobilizing the Community for Change
  • Innovating in the Midst of Excellence

9
The Arc of Biology 19th 20th Centuries
  • In the early 20th century biology emerged from
    natural history and physiology around the
    question What is life?
  • Biologist Jacques Loeb (1859-1924) helped to
    shape modern biological research through his
    emphasis on reductionism, experiments, and the
    engineering ideal.

10
The Arc of Biology Understanding and
Controlling Life
  • RNA Interference (RNAi) - An ancient evolutionary
    mechanism for silencing gene expression
  • An innate and adaptive response that protects a
    cell from foreign genes by targeting invading
    gene messenger RNAs

11
The Arc of Biology To Improve the Quality of
Human Life
Practical application of RNAi in agricultural and
medical biotechnology
  • Resistance to papaya virus
  • Therapeutic RNAi macular degeneration

2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to
Fire and Mello
12
The Arc of Biology What is Life?
  • Theoretical Constructs in Biology
  • All living things are made from cells, the
    chemical factories of life CELL BIOLOGY
  • All life is based on the same genetic code
    organized as DNA or RNA GENETICS
  • All forms of life evolved by natural selection or
    genetic drift EVOLUTION
  • All life is connected to form ecosystems ECOLOGY

13
Life in TransitionLife put Earth under New
Management
Origins Energy Adaptation
14
Origins When, Where, and How did Life on Earth
begin?
DNA world
Open system chemistry
RNA world
Self-replication
How did the biological complexity of life emerge
from pre-biotic chemistry and geochemistry? Self-c
ontained The Cell Self-sustaining -
Energy Self-replicating RNA, DNA Evolving -
Biodiversity
H2 CO2 gt HCO n
Basic elements
Self-sustaining biochemistry
15
Systems Synthetic BiologyWhat are the
Indispensable Requirements for Life?
Membrane Encapsulation
New Chemical Theories
Are There Alternative Routes to Life?
Eric Smith, SFI
  • What are
  • The physical rules for cell membrane assembly?
  • The minimum gene set required to sustain life?
  • The fundamental requirements for genome
    stability?
  • Chemical constraints?

?
Genome Stability
16
Energy
Light-Driven Energy Transduction Rhodobacter
sphaeroides
How can natural energy transduction systems
inspire biology-based technologies capable of
delivering clean, sustainable, and renewable
energy?
Chloroplasts
PS I
Au
Ag
e-
Proteorhodopsins Edward Delong, MIT
e-
photon
e-
e-
Applied Photosynthesis Barry Bruce, U. Tennessee
-/
17
New Energy Systems
  • From the application of systems and synthetic
    biology to
  • Microbial fuel cells
  • Microbial / algal production of hydrocarbons
  • From potential chemical sources of energy in the
    living world
  • Arsenate, Iron, Manganese, Nitrate, Selenate,
    Sulfate, Uranyl oxide

Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Portand State
Univ. Everett Schock, Washington Univ. St. Louis
18
AdaptationLife in a Time of Planetary Change
  • Earths climate and life support systems are
    changing in novel and unexpected ways.

19
Adaptation Life in a Time of Planetary Change
Adaptation and survival
Extinction
Transformations
  • Adaptation as a concept - what can we learn?
  • How do life forms adapt to planetary change?
  • How does the living world change the planet?

20
Making New Connectionsin an Increasingly
Connected World
Atmosphere Geosphere Biosphere
Global Health
21
Making Connections
Connecting Genomes to Ecosystems
How do living systems respond to rapidly changing
environments? How do we ensure global health?
22
Making Connections Personalized Medicine
2008
23
Multiscale-Thinking
2008
24
New Tools and Approaches
  • Add NEON slide here

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
25
Computational Thinking
2005
26
Life Sciences in Transition Challenges for 21st
Century Biology
Is this the biology that we are teaching right
now?
27
Life Sciences in Transition Challenge Catalyzing
Community Change in Biology Education
Prepare a new generation of scientists to
communicate science as a precise, predictive,
and reliable way of knowing the
world. Transforming Undergraduate Education in
Biology Mobilizing the Community for Change
28
  • Science Priorities
  • A Time of Change, Opportunity, and Challenge
  • Biological Sciences
  • Life in Transition
  • Mobilizing the Community for Change
  • Innovating in the Midst of Excellence

29
Calls for Change
1986
30
Calls for Change
1989
31
Calls for Change
1990
32
Calls for Change
1990
33
Calls for Change
1996, 1998
34
Calls for Change
2003
35
Calls for Change
2007
Make the United States the most attractive
setting in which to study and perform research so
that we can develop, recruit, and retain the best
and brightest students, scientists, and engineers
from within the United States and throughout the
world.
36
What is Learning?
  • Learning is the creative process by which new
    knowledge is discovered.

37
Catalyzing Community Change
Cover of Politico, July 11, 2009
38
Opportunity
  • This is how we will lead the world in new
    discoveries in this new century.  But I think all
    of you understand it will take far more than the
    work of government.  It will take all of us.  It
    will take all of you.  And so today I want to
    challenge you to use your love and knowledge of
    science to spark the same sense of wonder and
    excitement in a new generation.
  • President Barack Obama
  • National Academy of Sciences 146th Annual Meeting
  • Washington DC, April 27, 2009

39
  • Scientists must find new ways to engage with the
    public. One cannot just exhort we all agree you
    should agree with us. Its a much more
    interactive process thats involved. Its time
    consuming and can be tedious. But its very
    important.
  • Alan I. Leshner,
  • American Association for the Advancement of
    Science

40
Opportunity
  • I want to persuade you to spend time in the
    classroom, talking and showing young people what
    it is that your work can mean, and what it means
    to you. 
  • President Barack Obama
  • National Academy of Sciences 146th Annual Meeting
  • Washington DC, April 27, 2009

41
The Innovators Dilemma
  • Incumbents very seldom invent the future.
  • Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google
  • New York Times, April 15, 2009

42
  • Science Priorities
  • A Time of Change, Opportunity, and Challenge
  • Biological Sciences
  • Life in Transition
  • Mobilizing the Community for Change
  • Innovating in the Midst of Excellence

43
To clarify an ever changing present, and inform
the future with wisdom.
44
Where discoveries begin
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