QUBES: Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education Synthesis

Project No.
PI Name
Samuel Donovan

Abstract 1

QUBES: Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education Synthesis

Presentation Type
Donovan, Sam University of Pittsburgh Hale, Alison University of Pittsburgh Wojdack, Jeremy Radford University Fleming-Davies, Arietta Radford University Jenkins, Kristin BioQUEST Hamerlinck, Gaby BioQUEST LaMar, M. Drew William and Mary Diaz Eaton, Carrie Unity College Sheehy, Robert Radford University Poli, Dorothy Belle Roanoke College Gower, Stith T.


Biology has become increasingly quantitative and this interdisciplinary aspect presents new challenges for faculty as researchers and educators. As quantitative skills play an increasingly important role in student success in biology, both biology and mathematics faculty may find that they lack the resources and pedagogical tools to teach quantitative biology effectively. There is substantial information about resources and pedagogical approaches from education research and discipline based education research, however the same research has demonstrated the difficulty of implementing new teaching methods. Faculty need support to enhance student quantitative skills and the QUBES project is designed to provide that support.


The QUBES project proposes to improve Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES) by:
1. Coordinating the efforts and resources of communities invested in promoting quantitative biology education, including professional societies and quantitative biology educational projects.
2. Supporting faculty understanding and implementation of specific quantitative biology concepts and teaching approaches.
3. Increasing the visibility, utility, and adoption of existing quantitative biology materials and
the capacity for peer interactions to support innovation.
4. Describing and tracking faculty contributions to quantitative biology education scholarship.
5. Studying and disseminating the features of this system that influence implementation success.


A key component of our efforts is the Faculty Mentoring Network (FMN) model. FMNs bring together a group of faculty interested in an aspect of quantitative biology education reform ranging from implementation of improved pedagogical approaches such as active learning, introducing a particular disciplinary tool such as modeling, or developing and implementing quantitatively rich curriculum materials. FMNs meet virtually using the QUBESHub and feature quantitative biology pedagogy and content experts who mentor a small network of spatially distributed instructors implementing course reforms. QUBES is also working to promote reward for efforts in quantitative biology education reform, including developing meaningful metrics of quantitative biology teaching scholarship, which could catalyze long-term academic cultural change across STEM education and beyond. QUBES Implementation Research will study activities and interventions throughout the project to provide more insight into reforming STEM education.


The QUBES project was launched in September, 2014. The QUBESHub is open to the public and is supporting various Faculty Mentoring Networks, as well as Partner Pages for our Consortium members, and access to resources and tools. Several scientific societies have partnered with QUBES to offer FMNs targeting areas of interest for their members. QUBESHub and FMNs have been used to disseminate educational materials, such as the DryadLab modules or text book materials, or to support NSF funded projects.

Broader Impacts

QUBES has the potential to increase participation of underrepresented groups by improving instructional approaches. Additionally, the virtual nature of the QUBES project can increase access to resources and professional development to support faculty reform efforts, leading to broader adoption and implementation of improved quantitative biology education. The QUBES project may also serve as a model for other disciplinary areas, in terms of best practices to share resources and improve STEM education efforts.

Unexpected Challenges



Donovan, Sam, Eaton, Carrie Diaz, Gower, Stith T., Jenkins, Kristin P., LaMar, M. Drew, Poli, DorothyBelle, Sheehy, Robert, Wojdak, Jeremy M., (2015), 'QUBES: a community focused on supporting teaching and learning in quantitative biology', Letters in Biomathematics, Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology: Education and Research, Taylor & Francis, 2, 1: pg: 46-55, June, (DOI: 10.1080/23737867.2015.1049969)

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