SMB2023 Archie M. Grifin West Ballroom in The Ohio Union
Research helps education helps research: countering the false research-vs-education dichotomy
John Jungck Prize
Thursday, July 20
Plenary-06 : John Jungck Prize
Associate Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering
Indiana University, USA
Early- and mid-career scientists in tenure-track positions are often discouraged by senior scientists from seriously investing in teaching, mentoring, and education. By the conventional wisdom, time spent on education is time that cannot be spent on grants and publications that drive research success, tenure, and promotion. Compounded over individual career trajectories and the emergent culture of academia, this false research-vs-education dichotomy reduces the quality of teaching and mentoring, impairs the scholarship of teaching and learning, disincentivizes investments in undergraduate research, and can even lead to perceptions that service- and education-minded scientists are less serious than their peers. It doesn‘t need to be this way. I will share my experiences that run counter to the research-vs-education dichotomy. Integrating cutting-edge mathematical biology research in the classroom has boosted student engagement and encouraged undergraduates to pursue research, while also exposing areas for improvement in our open source research tools. Directly integrating undergraduate researchers into our primary lab mission has not only helped train the next generation of mathematical biologists, but also taught mentoring skills to our graduate students and postdocs, and helped our lab to explore new research paths. Moreover, an education mindset in our methods research has driven us to create training materials and hackathons that have boosted adoption, increased research impact, and helped foster new communities of collaborators. In my n=1 case, research helps education, and education helps research. I will close with a brief exploration on challenges and opportunities for integrating undergraduate research with experiential learning.