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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Nelson, Lori [1], Berner, Rachel [2], Cheeke, Tanya [3].

A course-based undergraduate research experience to investigate the effect of mycorrhizal fungi on shrub-steppe plant growth and development.

Course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) creates more inclusive and engaging environments for students from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. Failure to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia may result in the exclusion of scientists from future generations and perpetuate systematic oppression of BIPOC. Hands-on course-based learning encourages collaboration among students, connects them with otherwise elusive mentors, and develops students’ self-confidence to continue in in STEM. Instructor-guided research integrated into the course curriculum reduces barriers for participation in research including time, income, and connection with professional mentors. In our General Ecology course at Washington State University Tri-Cities, we integrate course-based undergraduate research experience into the curriculum. Students gain hands-on research experience by investigating the responsiveness of native Washington shrub-steppe plant species to symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi for restoration of disturbed plant communities. We focus on the increase in total plant biomass, height, and root to shoot ratio of inoculated plants compared to plants grown in uninoculated soil. Students gain skills in the scientific method, experimental design, data collection, data management, and statistical interpretation. During the 16-week semester, students make predictions about plant growth responses to mycorrhizal colonization based on plant successional stage, set-up the greenhouse experiment, and collect plant growth data. After 9 weeks of plant growth, students collect final measurements of plant growth, harvest the plants for total biomass analysis, interpret the data following analysis, and compose a formal lab report to communicate their findings. Data from our 2020 activity indicated different growth responses to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi inoculation between the four plant species. Since we began these experiments in 2019, our methods have improved and will continue to pursue our goal to generate usable data for restoration for native shrub steppe plant species. These benefits ultimately improve retention of students in STEM and facilitates place-based-learning (PBL) to strengthen student’s connections with their local flora and ecosystems in which they live.

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1 - Washington State University, 2710 Crimson Way, Richland, WA, 99354, United States
2 - Washington State University, 205 Northwest Ann Street,, Pullman, WA, 99163, United States
3 - Washington State University, School Of Biological Sciences, 2710 Crimson Way, Richland, WA, 99354, United States

course-based undergraduate research
Native Plants

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ED3, Education & Outreach III: Teaching tools, Laboratories and Research Experiences
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 2:00 PM(EDT)
Number: ED3005
Abstract ID:1037
Candidate for Awards:None

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