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Associate Professor
St. Edward's University
Austin, TX 78704
B.S. Presbyterian College, Clinton, S.C.
Ph.D. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.


Will Exposure to Scientists of Diverse Backgrounds Convince Students in a Required Microbiology Class to Consider a Research Career?  

 St. Edward’s University is a primarily undergraduate Hispanic serving institution in Austin, TX.Students entering the department of biological sciences overwhelmingly intend to enter medicine or dentistry.Informal and Health Professions Advisory Committee interviews reveal a number of motivations for this choice:their parents want them to have a prestigious career, they want to help people, they identify with characters in television medical programs, and/or they want to have a comfortable life-style.Many students have limited exposure to research since this is not a public activity and the pace of science does not lend itself to television dramatization.The goal of this research was to determine if introduction of a popular science book that humanizes scientists (Paul De Kruif’s Microbe Hunters) into an elective epidemiology course could alter students’ views on a career as a research scientist.In addition to information from their textbook and classroom discussions students were examined over material included in Microbe Hunters and discussed this book informally.The students were given questionnaires at the beginning and end of the course to gauge their attitudes toward research and scientists.  The current project examines student responses to meeting scientists via video, videoconference, and classroom meetings.  Surveys will be given at the beginning and end of the semester and reflective papers will be written regarding each of the speakers.

Most valuable resource thus far: 

Porta, Angela R. (2002). Using Diversity Among Biomedical Scientists as a Teaching Tool. The American Biology Teacher 64 (3): 176-182. Porta, Angela R. (2002). Using Diversity Among Biomedical Scientists as a Teaching Tool. The American Biology Teacher 64 (3): 176-182.  See Bibliography for additional information.

What is your approach and/or what evidence will you gather?

  See Findings, method.

What results have emerged ?

 See Findings, method and discussion.

The Appendix contains information regarding impact.

Baynham, Patricia

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Department of Biological Sciences

St. Edward’s University

Austin, TX 78704

(512) 233-1675



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