On Thursday, January 11, the SOT Education Committee and the SOT Undergraduate Education Subcommittee sponsored an Undergraduate Educator Network webinar entitled, “Don’t Sweat It…Three Dry Labs for Undergraduate Toxicology Programs.”
The webinar featured broad-spanning examples of toxicology lab exercises that do not require pipetting or running gels or injecting mice, but rather make use of in silico and active learning approaches to illustrate and reinforce key toxicology aspects involving computational methods. Each of the three speakers described a dry lab that they successfully use in their teaching.
The first presenter, Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis (Northeast Ohio Medical University), explained how to incorporate statistical tools for “big” data set analyses. The pedagogical aim of determining whether data sets derived from experimental toxicology analyses are statistically significant was stressed throughout her presentation, along with excellent pointers and examples of how and when to implement statistical tests such as F-tests and ANOVAs. In addition, she provided the instructional materials that can be adapted; these are linked on the UEN webinar page and in the Undergraduate Education Resource Collection.
The second presenter, Dr. Kai Low (St. John’s University), described how to incorporate bioinformatics tools for protein function assessment. His lab provides students with a visceral sense of the enormous amount of informatics-based data that are available to students at the click of a button.
The third presenter, Dr. David Reif (North Carolina State University), detailed how to present a code-based course to students with no previous coding experience for biological- and toxicological-based computational analyses. He provided perspective on implementation of this material in their curriculum and noted that faculty, as well as students, take his course.
All in all, it was a pedagogically rich and creative webinar and a wonderful way to kick off the New Year! And the best part is that it’s not too late to watch the webinar! It has been archived with the other Undergraduate Educator Network webinars and is freely accessible.
The SOT Undergraduate Education Subcommittee offers sincere thanks to the Education Committee and to SOT for their support of this important educational tool. Give it a look and perhaps you, too, will be able to incorporate one or more of these dry lab exercises and active learning approaches to enhance the overall learning experience of your students of toxicology!
Best wishes to all! See you all in Texas!