2008 Biophysical Society Summer Course in Biophysics

Course Dates
May 25, 2008 - August 9, 2008

Course Director at UNC-CH
Barry R. Lentz (uncbrl@med.unc.edu)

Course Organizers at UNC-CH
Lisa Phillippie (ldh@med.unc.edu)

COURSE SCHEDULE: Case Studies in the Biophysics of Life

Course Objective
The objective of the course is to introduce minority students from colleges and universities lacking formal programs in biophysics to the exciting world of mechanistic and structural biology, and the possibility of a career in biophysics.  While an introduction to the intellectual content of biophysics is certainly a desired outcome, the most important outcome will be that students will have increased their confidence in their abilities as they work toward their academic and career goals with greater focus and understanding of the different types of opportunities that are available.  The course is targeted to junior and senior undergraduate students in the quantitative sciences (e.g. physics, computer science, chemistry, and biochemistry), who have completed two years of calculus level physics.

The course consists of three components: Formal Coursework, a Research Internship, and Professional Skills Development. The Formal Coursework consists of a series of 31 lectures (1.25 hours each) held during five of the 11 weeks of the Course. Lectures are supplemented during these five weeks by seminars and discussions that relate each topic to issues of current societal or biomedical interest. Seminars are presented by leading biophysicists placing each topic in the context of modern research and current applications. The Research Internship begins immediately upon arrival. Research continues throughout the entire 11 weeks of the Course, however, intensity varies based on the lecture schedule. The Professional Skills Development component requires each student to present an oral presentation about their research. A workshop on group work and on oral presentations is held on the first week of the Course.  During the third week of research, students  present a brief (5-8 minutes) oral presentation on the background and rationale for her/his research project.  Each student presents a final oral presentation of standard platform length (15 minutes) to classmates and faculty during the last week of the course and receive feedback and mentorship from TAs in small group settings.  A brief written report will be presented to the research mentor based on feedback from this presentation.

Evaluation of Student Performance
Student performance is evaluated based on 1] group assignments from lectures, 2] brief quizzes held each Friday afternoon of the course, 3] the final oral presentation, and 4] the written report.  Grades are assigned on a High Pass (H), and Pass (P) basis.  Performance at a lower level receives no grade.  Students receiving either an H or P grade receive a certificate from the Biophysical Society recognizing their successful completion of the course. Students who receive an H or P receive academic credit for a one semester course from UNC-CH.

Course Evaluation
Dr. Liz Russell–McKenzie, an educational psychologist currently completing training at Temple University, will evaluate the Course through surveys and interviews with each student.  Dr. Russell-McKenzie will conduct follow-up interviews with each of the students after six months, one year, and each year thereafter until they complete their first year of graduate training.

Funds were allotted for 12 students to participate this summer. The application deadline this year was March 17, 2008. Scholarships included tuition, funds for travel to and return from the institution, room, registration fees, and a small living allowance.

Biophysical Society Course Administrator
Julianna Wittig (jwittig@biophyics.org)

Biophysical Society / 9650 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland / 20814-7078
Email: www.biophysics.org / Phone: (301) 634-7114 / Fax: (301) 634-7133