In November 2011, visiting speaker Dr. Nancy Trun (Duquesne University) presented a service-learning seminar to the Department of Biology.
The seminar was an overview of her methods to integrate service-based learning into undergraduate biology classroom exercises. Her visit, hosted by Dr. Carl Luciano, provided the department an opportunity to learn more about Dr. Trun’s successful efforts to integrate service learning into both her personal research program as well as the undergraduate biology curriculum at Duquesne.
As part of a multi-organizational cooperative, Dr. Trun and her colleagues direct student research on the zoonotic threats posed by feral cats in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, via genetic analyses of cat microbiomes. Students conduct hands-on, relevant research while gaining supervised experience in the analysis and communication of their scientific progress. Outcome assessments demonstrate that students participating in this National Science Foundation-funded program come away with improved analytical and writing skills and rate their experiences very highly.
Efforts are now underway to partner IUP’s Biology education program with Dr. Trun’s service-learning consortium.