Review of 2008-2009 Program
Module 1: Holy Mad Cow!
In recent years infectious particles, called prions, have been identified as the cause of diseases such as Mad Cow disease, Chronic Wasting disease in deer and elk, and are thought to be implicated in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease in humans. Prions are proteins that have taken on an abnormal shape and have the ability to convert any normally shaped protein to the abnormal form. A prion protein, called PSI, has been identified in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We will explore the PSI prion through a set of experiments that include DNA cloning, fluorescence microscopy, and genetic matings to explore prion inheritance.
Module 2: Monkey Business
Primates are a fascinating group of animals, and they display a number of unique and often strange behaviors. In this module, we will focus on some of the ways primatologists use observation and data analysis to learn about how and why primates behave the way they do. We will begin by covering some of the basics of animal behavior and primate biology. We will also be learning about some of the challenges of studying primates in the field and out. We will ultimately be developing research questions that can be addressed using long-term data collected from a famous population of Tanzanian baboons.
Here's what last year's students had to say about the summer component of the SRI.
When asked to describe a rewarding, exciting, "learning high", one high school student reflected,
"Designing our own experiment was exciting because it required us to use our brains and question ourselves."it enabled me to use what I'd learned earlier in the week."
One college student explained,
"I think the whole week has been exciting for learning because I got to review and relearn all of the things I learned in Microbiology this past semester. Also I enjoyed being able to explain and help the high school students try to learn as well. I wish I could have had this opportunity when I was in high school."
Another participant shared,
Making the UV light experiments by using the scientific method. It was interesting to see the results and then try to connect it to everyday life. Also it brought in many more questions that could be further explored."
The design of research teams to include both college and high school students was planned to foster mentoring relationships. The design was described as a positive by one high-school participant,
The college students are the best because they are so helpful and they have their own personality that makes everything fun so that us high school students don't feel so dumb like we have no idea what we are doing. I am so thankful to have them here to help us every step of the way."