Redesigning Undergraduate Laboratories: From Recipes to Research


  • Jill Rulfs Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States of America
  • Louis Roberts Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States of America
  • Michael Buckholt Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States of America
  • JoAnn Whitefleet-Smith Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States of America



course-based undergraduate research, authentic research, discovery-based learning, undergraduate laboratory teaching


In an effort to introduce discovery-based learning in our undergraduate laboratory curriculum, we joined two collaborative, crowd-sourcing efforts to engage early career undergraduates in searching for novel antibiotics or bacteriophages as antimicrobial therapies. This was the first step in transforming the curriculum into one focused on providing research experiences to all our undergraduates. Our goal was to engage students in open-ended research projects that foster a sense of ownership, advance knowledge, and introduce relevant skills. We also developed courses built on faculty research programs and biotechnology industry practices. In one, students design cell culture models of tissue regeneration. Another connects to faculty research investigating stress responses in a model of mycobacterial tuberculosis. In an immunotherapies course, students design cell culture and protein purification strategies to maximize generation of a monoclonal antibody. In our newest course, students examine number and diversity of soil nematodes in urban locations. This course has evolved to include interdisciplinary research into the environmental history of the sites. Assessments demonstrated gains in concrete skills and related concepts, and in aspects such self-efficacy. All are measures shown to increase retention and student future success.


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How to Cite

Rulfs, J., Roberts, L. ., Buckholt, M. and Whitefleet-Smith, J. (2022) “Redesigning Undergraduate Laboratories: From Recipes to Research”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, 4(1), pp. 97–112. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v4i1.1015.