Looking for Research Collaboration with High School Biology Classrooms

My name is Joanna Cielocha. I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My research focuses on parasites, particularly tapeworms of sharks and rays. I am interested in questions relating to diversity and interrelationships of these parasites.

I am in the process of writing a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to the National Science Foundation. The deadline for this application is November 12, 2010. Part of this grant application includes a “Broader Impacts” component for which I would like to collaborate with high school science teachers in Kansas. Ideally, this would involve teachers in a rural or “under-served” area (i.e., within a district where few students have pursued biology degrees in college or where these sorts of opportunities are not common). More importantly, I would like to work with high school science teachers that are interested and enthusiastic about broadening science education in Kansas high schools. I envision participation to include 2-3 guest visits to a classroom. These visits would include lectures and discussions with the class on topics that relate to current course material but may not receive detailed attention in the regular science curriculum: parasitology, biodiversity, and marine biology. A brief section introducing students to the topic of undergraduate research opportunities and research-track careers in science after college will also be incorporated.

The selected topics are derived from my current research experiences and interests. They would flow nicely in a course on the diversity of animals, but could be incorporated into other courses such as AP Biology, thus being most suitable for high school juniors and seniors. The parasitology portion would ideally focus on the diversity of the parasitic platyhelminths (tapeworms, flukes, and monogenes) found in Kansas, and also expanded to include those parasites found in and on sharks and rays. This topic would dovetail nicely into the topics of biodiversity and marine biology. Whereas marine parasites are highly enigmatic, with their diversity largely unknown and their life cycles involving a variety of other marine organisms. The final topic, research opportunities and careers, could also apply to a broader audience of students, if other science teachers in your school are interested.

This collaboration would take place during the 2011-2012 school year (Fall and/or Spring) given the course schedule, with the possibility of extending it into a second school year. I would be happy to speak with interested teachers to address questions and/or ideas regarding the development and feasibility of this collaboration.


Joanna Cielocha

Joanna J. Cielocha
University of Kansas
Ph.D. Candidate
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
1200 Sunnyside Ave.
5024 Haworth Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045

email: jjcielocha@hotmail.com
phone: 785-864-5826

The BEN portal of the National Science Digital Library


The BEN portal of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Pathway supports biological sciences education. The BEN Portal provides access to education resources from BEN Collaborators and is managed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Over 15,099 reviewed resources covering 77 biological sciences topics are available. BEN resources can help you engage student interest, shorten lesson preparation time, provide concept updates, and develop curricula that are in line with national standards for content, use of animals and humans, and student safety.


Browse these and other resources in the BEN Portal.

Teach.Genetics : Teach.Genetics, a companion to the popular Learn.Genetics website from the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center, offers tools and resources to help educators bring genetics, bioscience, and health alive in the classroom.

Mitochondrial DNA Clarifies Human Evolution : This article and associated material/lesson plan can be used to identify the structure and function of mitochondria and to understand mitochondria’s role in evolution.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Study of Plant Structure : A variation of this resource can provide guidelines for conducting a laboratory exercise in botany and plant structure. Students will become familiar with the standard techniques of light microscopy, including staining, sectioning, and drawing.

Resources for AP Biology Teachers:
Renewable Energy Curriculum Units : The Modeling Photosynthesis Unit provides detailed information on structure, function and application of photosynthesis, as well as a multi-day lesson plan on photosynthesis modeling.

Building The Tree of Life : This brief article provides excellent background and history on the concepts of genetic mapping and the creation and evolution of phylogenetic trees .

The State of Ecosystems : Use this article and its accompanying material to explain ecosystems and human impact! It is available in English and Spanish.

Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey

The Winter Bird Feeder Survey began in January 1988 as a cooperative effort between the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Kansas Ornithological Society, to census birds at feeders. Data is gathered by hundreds of volunteers who watch their feeders and count birds on two, of four designated days. The four day feeder survey period for January 2009 is from January 15th, through January 18th.

The data collected on this project is invaluable to wildlife planners and researchers. The data and maps are also available to all who are interested in exploring the natural world.

Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

A talk by David Sloan Wilson
Monday Oct 6, 2008, 7:00 pm

Spooner Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
(right across from the Natural History Museum)

The most disturbing fact about public awareness of evolution is not that roughly 50% of Americans don’t believe it, but that nearly 100% don’t connect it to matters of importance in their lives. For most of the 20th century, evolutionary theory was restricted to the biological sciences and avoided for most human-related subjects. That is now rapidly changing, as virtually every human-related subject is being approached from an evolutionary perspective. As soon as evolution is perceived as unthreatening, explanatory, and useful for understanding the human condition and improving human welfare, it can become not just acceptable but irresistible.

Reception and book signing to follow

David Sloan Wilson is an evolutionary biologist, distinguished professor at Binghamton University. He is a prominent proponent of the concept of group selection (aka multi-level selection) in evolution. Wilson’s book, Darwin’s Cathedral proposes that religion is a multi-level adaptation, a product of cultural evolution developed through a process of multi-level selection. His latest book, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives attempts to give an introduction to evolution for a broad audience, detailing the various ways in which evolution can be applied to everyday affairs. Wilson started the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program at Binghamton University to provide a program that unifies diverse disciplines under the theory of evolution. Students in the program take evolution-themed courses in a variety of disciplines including biology, anthropology, psychology, bioengineering, and philosophy.

Monday Oct 6, 2008, 7:00 pm The Commons,  Free and open to the public.