Focusing STEM Education by Blurring Disciplinary Boundaries

Date(s) - 09/19/2011
11:45 am - 12:35 pm

Dr. David Julian, Biology

Modern life science research is interdisciplinary and quantitative, blurring the boundaries between the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). However, in a typical undergraduate curriculum the STEM courses are taught by separate departments with separate faculty, and with no coordination or connections made between the disciplines. Consequently, students compartmentalize their STEM knowledge along traditional disciplinary lines, which may reduce their comprehension and excitement about modern life sciences research. We are challenging this model in the UF-HHMI Undergraduate Cross-Disciplinary Laboratory (X-Lab) project, which provides a centralized location and curriculum in which the natural and applied sciences are integrated across disciplines using cutting-edge laboratory instrumentation, modern instructional equipment, and innovative instructional methods.