ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology

b. SoTL Institute Presentation


The majority of my biology students at St. Edward's University (a Hispanic serving institution) enter the university determined to pursue medicine or dentistry.  They think this is the best way to help people and to please their families and have difficulty considering other options.

Question:  Will exposure to scientists of different genders/ethnicities in a required microbiology course convince biology/biochemistry students to consider a research career?  (What works?)

Preliminary data:  Previously, I had students in my biology elective epidemiology course read The Microbe Hunters.This resulted in most of the male students being more likely to consider a career in research while fewer female students were impacted in this way.The book profiled only male scientists and the females may not have identified as closely with them.If I expose the students to diverse scientists then this will test whether this approach will be effective for female as well as male students.


At the beginning of the semester administer a SALG survey to assess students’ career aspirations and motivations.


1. Have students collect information (both professional and personal) regarding 2 microbiologists during each of the 4 lecture exam sections for a total of 8 scientists.  These individuals whose research focuses on a topic studied in the current part of the class are chosen by the professor and introduced either by providing the name of the individual or via a book chapter, or a video, or in some other way.  The professor may interview the scientists via email if additional personal information is needed.

2. Students will turn in the assignment and will also be asked questions regarding the scientists on their next exam to make sure they completed the assignment.


Short-term:  SALG survey at the end of the course to gauge student career aspirations and motivation.

Long-term:  Follow the students with a survey during their remaining time at the University and afterwards.  May need to construct a Facebook page for biology alums.


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Great question - clear, concise, interesting, and important. I have wondered this in a less formal way in my environmental studies class. I can't wait to see what you find. Question: what are your goals with the activities? What are you most hoping that the students will discover or experience? This isn't as clear right here as it might be...

There is a good book to look at: it is called 'The Door in the Dream: conversations with eminent women in science' published by the NAS, and it profiles all the women inducted into the NAS. I loved it.

There is another good one called 'Curious Minds - how a child becomes a scientist' that talks about men and women and how they ended up where they are. Very readable, story-form, engaging.

Posted 13:15, 18 Jul 2008
Oops - you just said you know the Curious Minds book. Sorry!
Posted 13:16, 18 Jul 2008
Hi Trish,
Do you think that changing students' appreciation of successful scientists will improve their learning of concepts (not necessarily scientific) in general? Might it give them new ways of thinking and therefore more ways of learning?
Posted 13:21, 18 Jul 2008
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