Category: Courses

Biology Faculty Receive Course Redesign Grant to Lower Educational Costs for Students

Dianne Jennings and Jonathan Moore
Dianne Jennings (left) and Jonathan Moore (right)

The Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) recently awarded Dianne Jennings and Jonathan Moore a Course Redesign Grant for $27,797.00 to create open educational resources for BIOL 152 Introduction to Biological Sciences II.  With this grant, Jennings and Moore will be able to provide extremely affordable educational content to students for a course which is required for a B.S. in Biology at VCU.

Dianne Jennings is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology.

Jonathan Moore is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology.

VCU News: The River of No Return

Amid wild blackberries, Professor Dan Carr gives an impromptu lecture on how different kinds of fruit form.

Assistant Professor Dan Carr was featured in a VCU News article on The River of No Return: The Lower Salmon River Experience, a series of classes taught along the Lower Salmon River in Idaho.

Full Article: “The River of No Return” by Brian McNeill from University Public Affairs

Dan Carr is an Assistant Professor in VCU Biology.

3 Biology Faculty to Develop Open Educational Resources for Biology Core Course

From the left, Ching-Yu Huang, Dianne Jennings, and Jonathan Moore

VCU Biology congratulates Instructors Ching-Yu Huang (pictured, left) & Jonathan Moore (pictured, right), and Associate Professor Dianne Jennings (pictured, center) for being granted an Affordable Course Content Award for their proposal, “Adopting and developing free open education resources for BIOL 151.”

Huang, Jennings, and Moore were awarded a total of $18,717 to develop lesson plans for BIOL 151 Introduction to Biological Sciences I that would rely on open educational resources which would be free to students as an alternative to traditional textbook-based options.  The award money will contribute to additional time and resources spent creating, implementing, and reviewing changes to the way BIOL 151 is conducted.  The successful implementation of this proposal is estimated to save each student an average of $237 which would amount to total savings of $308,555 for the student population in a semester (based on estimated enrollments and textbook costs for Fall 2018).

BIOL 151 Introduction to Biological Sciences I is the first of two sequential courses in the biology department that all students pursuing a major or minor in biology are required to complete and that serves as a collateral requirement for numerous other areas of study at VCU.

Summer Studies Faculty Read RateMyProfessor Reviews

Instructor Jonathan Moore reads RateMyProfessor reviews to promote Summer Studies at VCU.
Instructor Jonathan Moore reads RateMyProfessor reviews to promote Summer Studies at VCU.

Jonathan Moore, an Instructor in VCU Biology was among several faculty teaching summer courses this year who read RateMyProfessor reviews.  Moore will teach introduction to biological sciences II, ecology, a capstone seminar on animal behavior, and a new lab on animal behavior during this summer semester.

Watch the video below via YouTube!

2 Biology Students Received Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Awards

Baldacci Experiential Learning Award

On behalf of Interim Department Chair Bonnie Brown:

The inaugural recipients of the College of Humanities and Sciences Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund grants (resulting from a generous gift from David and Michelle Baldacci) have today been announced and Department of Biology students received 2 of 12 awards! These awards give financial support to academically promising College of Humanities and Sciences undergraduates so they can pursue internships, conferences, research, domestic or study abroad, and/or social entrepreneurship opportunities. Our students who received Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund Awards are:

Sean Hubbard (Biology, Class of May 2020) will participate on an expedition as a research assistant in Guyana, led by Operation Wallacea, which will journey to a protected reserve called Iwokrama in the undisturbed primary rainforest of the Guiana Shield region.

Samantha Moon (Biology, Class of May 2019) will study abroad,  with Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in summer and fall 2018.

Thanks also to Dan Carr and Sarah Golding in Biology who were among the 10 faculty who reviewed 108 applications!

Biology Faculty Contribute to Study on Student Understanding of Evolution


Dianne Jennings and Jonathan Moore

Dianne Jennings (Associate Professor) and Jonathan Moore (Instructor) attended an Avida-Active Lens workshop prior to the 2018 academic year to receive training on a unique platform for delivering a curriculum of evolution to students.  They have created unique modules for in-class and online activities that students in their BIOL 151 and BIOL 152 courses will complete over the course of the 2018 academic year.

The data from these activities will help to develop effective teaching techniques for curricula in evolution that will benefit future biology students across the country.  Avida-ED, an application developed and deployed by Michigan State University, will be utilized by Jennings and Moore as a part of their participation in the study.  Learn more about Avida-ED here.

Biology course allows students to experience South Africa from ‘Summits to Sea’

Female Kudu Antelope
A female Kudu antelope is one in the wide variety of animals that VCU students in South Africa might spot over winter break. Photo by James Vonesh.

Over the winter break, a hardy cadre of Virginia Commonwealth University students will escape the cold to snorkel, hike, bike, raft and canoe during an exploration of the rivers of South Africa.  The South African Summits to Sea: Human and Natural History of KwaZulu-Natal biology course will take the group of nine students from the peaks of Drakensberg Mountains — the rooftop of Africa — to the low-lying freshwater lagoons of Kosi Bay. At points between, they will visit the Tugela, Pongola and Buffalo rivers, which begin in the mountains and end at the sea.

Read more at VCU News

From zombie ants to shooting spores, biology course introduces students to all things fungi

Fungal Biology
Latest technology gives students the chance to discover new types of fungi.

Fungi have been shooting their spores all over a table in professor Fernando Tenjo’s classroom.

His students gather them up and joke about how “adorable” and “cute” the little reproductive necessities look under the microscope. Few people would use those same words to describe the fungi over by the window. That was scraped off rabbit dung and grows more hideous by the day.

Read more at VCU News.

Footprints on the James

Footprints on the James 2014
Students travel down the James on this summer field course, learning about the history of the river and how it has shaped the surrounding environment and civilization.

On a recent Friday afternoon on a wide stretch of the James River in Charles City County, a class of nine Virginia Commonwealth University students assisted VCU field biologists with netting catfish – some tiny, some as big as 45 pounds – as part of a hands-on demonstration to learn how scientists gather and analyze samples of tidal river fish.

Read more at VCU News

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