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Murdoch honored as QUBES faculty mentor

Published on July 14, 2021

Murdoch honored as QUBES faculty mentor

MurdochThe Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES) Project honored Barbara Murdoch, biology professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, as one of 16 college professors nationwide for service as a faculty mentor in the 2020-21 academic year. QUBES is a STEM higher education reform program supported by the National Science Foundation.

Murdoch led a Faculty Mentoring Network (FMN) titled “Bring Bioinformatics to Your Biology Classroom,” in which she provided expertise and guidance to peers across the country in implementing bioinformatics curriculum in their classrooms.

“A FMN is a community of educators with shared interest in exploring how to incorporate new and highly relevant curriculum into their courses,” explained Murdoch, who co-led the FMN with colleagues William Morgan of the College of Wooster (Ohio) and Jacob Kerby of the University of South Dakota. “Our objective was to provide vetted open educational resources and support the faculty participants in implementing the resource in their own courses.”

Murdoch participated in the same FMN in 2019, which was developed by the Network for Integrating Bioinformatics into Life Science Education (NIBLSE), and was subsequently asked to lead the spring 2021 session after successfully integrating new material into her Developmental Biology course at Eastern.

“We — scientists and non-scientists — are all living with the implications of these concepts today,” said Murdoch, “as we closely monitor the effects of mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, continued creation of new variants (like Delta), and their potential effects on human health.”

Expanding on the program’s relevance to COVID-19, she added, “Bioinformatics allows us to compare the sequences of viruses from different time points during an outbreak, different geographical locations, and from different organisms. From this we can determine where an infection first occurred and how it is spreading through a community and across the globe. This information is key to determining which tools will be most effective at slowing the spread of the virus.”

The FMN met on a biweekly basis throughout the spring 2021 term, to review and discuss resources to implement and adapt materials to specific needs of faculty participants.

QUBES is a virtual synthesis center supported by the National Science Foundation. Its primary goal is to increase the effectiveness of undergraduate biology education nationwide, with a particular focus on including more quantitative concepts and skills.

Written by Michael Rouleau