Coordinator: Maths Olympiad Cell
Coordinator: Mr. Pritesh Ranadive
Coordinator: Dean's Office
Making biology socially relevant through community engagement
Dr. Samiksha Raut
National efforts to reform undergraduate education have highlighted the need to relate abstract concepts in biology to real-world examples. While many of these reforms are targeted towards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors, very few studies have explored the impact of innovative curricula and introduction of high-impact practices for students majoring in non-STEM disciplines, often referred to as “non-majors”. Reforms directed towards non-majors are specifically important as this population of students constitute tomorrow’s voters, workers, consumers, and policymakers. This talk focuses on highlighting a pedagogical high- impact practice like service-learning to engage and raise awareness in the minds of the students about their community needs and how to better serve them. At an urban R1 institution like The University of Alabama at Birmingham, this high impact practice was utilized to specifically introduce socially relevant topics like climate change, sustainability, COVID-19 safety measures, vaccinations, opioid addiction, evolution, and organ donation. There will be an active discussion of connecting learning objectives with community service followed by brief discussions related to the student learning gains in the context of community engagement. Finally, there will be discussion of acquainting the audience with two journal platforms including the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education and Course Source to submit their current and future work.
Samiksha Raut, by training, is an environmental toxicologist and is actively engaged in advancing STEM education efforts in the southern United States. She has 14 years of higher education experience and is co-founder of Research on STEM Education at UAB and PEERs network affiliated with SABER. At UAB, she is engaged in the instruction of majors and non-majors’ biology students by embracing the realms of scientific teaching. This engagement has led to the pursuit of biology education research that has actively engaged 40 undergraduate and graduate students in various capacities. She has mentored two post-doctoral scholars through the National Institutes of Health funded MERIT scholars’ program. Her team has widely published in many peer reviewed journals and has won several national level recognitions including the prestigious, “Posters at the White House”. Her efforts have been recognized via several teaching, service, and mentoring awards at UAB and beyond. She is currently an editorial board member of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, Course Source and Frontiers in STEM Education.