Public Release:  AIBS teams with University of Oklahoma on introductory biology experience project

National Science Foundation grant will help scientific societies improve science biology teaching and learning

American Institute of Biological Sciences

Washington, DC and Norman, OK -- The United States National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $398,020 Research Coordination Network (RCN) grant to the University of Oklahoma to help university and college faculty members improve instruction in introductory biology courses. The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) partnered on the proposal and, through a sub-award, will provide programmatic staffing as well as expertise in building an online communication network for the RCN project's participants over the five-year grant period.

The Principal Investigator on the grant, "Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student: Using Scientific Societies as Change Agents for the Introductory Biology Experience," is Dr. Gordon Uno, chairman of the Department of Botany and Microbiology at the University of Oklahoma and a member of the AIBS Board of Directors. Uno, a recognized leader in science education, is chairman of the AIBS Education Committee.

NSF's RCN program supports projects that encourage and foster interactions among scientists to create new research directions or advance a field. This RCN grant builds upon previous NSF initiatives, including the recent AIBS Biology Education Summit and the NSF Conversations in Undergraduate Biology (see http://www.aibs.org/special-symposia/aibs_biology_education_summit.html).

The Preparing to Prepare project will work with scientific societies and their individual members as the key agents of change to reform undergraduate introductory biology. It will produce a shared vision for the future of undergraduate introductory biology education, develop, promote and share effective teaching and learning practices, and coordinate a sustainable communication network to connect the biology education community. These goals will be achieved by bringing together scientists, science educators, and members of biological professional societies through a series of small face-to-face meetings to stimulate innovative ideas about biology education and to outline ways to engage the entire biology education community in reform efforts. Meeting participants will gather annually with other biology educators, scientists, and science education specialists to share and promote the diverse and valuable education reform activities taking place on university campuses across the nation, thereby increasing the number of individuals involved with these efforts and prepared to implement change at their own institutions.

The project's first planning meeting will be held in Washington, DC, in mid-February. Participants will establish an advisory board, outline plans for the first year, and identify potential additional project participants. A project webpage will be created and maintained by AIBS at www.aibs.org.

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AIBS (www.aibs.org) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society. Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, with headquarters in Washington, DC, and a staff of approximately 50, AIBS is sustained by a robust membership of some 5,000 biologists and 200 professional societies and scientific organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 250,000. AIBS advances its mission through coalition activities in research, education, and public policy; publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience and the education website ActionBioscience.org; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening meetings; and managing scientific programs.

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