Monday, August 14, 2017

Rural Educators Engage in Bioanalytical Engineering Research and Teaching

Five science and mathematics teachers from rural schools in Oklahoma just completed the National Science Foundation-supported summer program at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for BioAnalysis. The program is designed to improve STEM teaching in rural classrooms and increase the number of rural students who select and successfully graduate from a higher education STEM field.   

“Combining the teaching expertise of the high school teachers with the research expertise of the faculty creates a powerful synergism for producing innovative and dynamic science curricula that directly impact current issues pertinent to rural Oklahoman communities,” said Mark Nanny, director of the Rural Educators Program and professor of environmental science in the Gallogly College of Engineering.

Oklahoma rural educators selected for the 2017 summer program include: Shawn Cusack, Northwestern Technology Center--Fairview; James Hall, Hydro-Eakly; Patrick King, Geary; David Martyn, Southwestern Oklahoma State University--Weatherford; and Key Tse, OU--Norman. The program includes laboratory work, seminars on real-world applications of bioanalytical engineering, curricula development and design, and evaluation and assessment activities.

Each educator is paired with a faculty mentor over seven weeks performing cutting-edge research in           
OU laboratories. Besides learning research skills, the program also focuses on developing classroom curricula and transferring research experiences into the classroom. A workshop on writing successful proposals focuses on rural educators preparing proposals for their classroom curricula. In the final week, educators present research activities, classroom curricula and prepare a research poster for display in the classroom and OU laboratory.

While much of the current research in bioanalytical engineering focuses on medical problems, the field is a powerful tool for all areas involving biology, such as the improved production of biofuels, the impact of biofilms on the biocorro
sion of steel infrastructure in the petroleum industry and the environmental bioremediation of groundwater.

Bioanalytical engineering presents rural educators with a dynamic and vibrant field rooted in fundamental concepts of molecular biology, biochemistry, cellular biology, chemistry and physics.  Combined with engineering design methodology and application, it provides opportunities for educators to enrich their teaching of these fundamental concepts, showing their students how knowledge in these fields can directly impact critical issues related to medicine, human health, energy resources and the environment.


Among the research opportunities available to educators through this program are the design of personal anti-cancer drugs, environmental engineering, biocorrosion engineering, biofuel processing, fabrication of bioanalytical devices and advancement of computational methods. For more information about the program, contact Mark Nanny at nanny@ou.edu.

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