Collaborative Research: Role of Flexible Design and Instructor Supports in Implementing Sustainable

Michael Pikaart
Hope College

Need: In this presentation, I report on BASIL (Biochemical Authentic Scientific Inquiry Laboratory). BASIL is a protein biochemistry CURE in which students explore enzymatic function of previously uncharacterized proteins. It combines computational and wet-lab protein science to deliver foundational concepts within the undergraduate biochemistry teaching lab. The BASIL consortium came together in 2015 as instructors sought to integrate genuine research into the biochemistry laboratory course. Most undergraduates studying biochemistry and molecular biology get their broadest exposure to wet-lab techniques in protein and nucleic acid chemistry (and, increasingly, computer/visualization) in their upper-level laboratory courses. This poster presents past developments by the BASIL team over the past years; an accompanying poster presents the forward-looking plan as we move into the next phase.Guiding questions: As instructors, we were finding that many, but not all, our students in these courses will have already had a research background in a traditional one-to-one (or one-to-few) research mentoring setting, for example a summer research program – an experience known to increase student learning and persistence in the sciences. At the same time, extended full-time PI-directed research is limited in the number of students served, and can even present a barrier. To broaden the impact of teaching through research, the BASIL instructors have implemented a CURE, or Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience, approach. Outcomes: Currently, the BASIL curriculum (freely available on GitHub includes modules on computational predictions of protein function, protein purification, and analysis of biochemical activity and kinetics. Broader impacts: BASIL functions as a CURE by leveraging the products of NIH’s 15-year protein structure initiative (PSI). The PSI was a high-throughput “structure-omics” project which resulted in determination of thousands of structures of proteins of unknown function; their structures and sequences are available via the Protein Data Bank, and expression plasmids are available a minimal cost. In the BASIL lab, student teams “adopt” a PSI protein and analyze it through expression and purification, assay development, and bioinformatics tools. This presentation summarizes the status of BASIL on multiple campuses and seeks to promote further adaptation of this CURE.