The TREE of plant science education

Aurora Levesley is the Project Officer for the Gatsby Plant Science TREE. The TREE grew out of the Gatsby Plant Science Summer Schools as a means of sharing the valuable resources produced for and during the Schools. Here she discusses the value of the TREE’s online lectures, which are the subject of a current New Phytologist paper. 

David Beerling at the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School
David Beerling gives a lecture at the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School. This is one of many lectures that have been edited for interactive online delivery and shared on the Plant Science TREE.

The Plant Science TREE is a free online central repository of plant science educational resources. More than 90 research academics and publishers have contributed over 2000 resources, including online research lectures, research-led lecture slides, practicals, video clips and other resources on topical plant science. It was developed by the University of Leeds with funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and is currently used by scientists, educators and students from over 320 institutes worldwide.

Many students enter biological sciences courses with little interest in or knowledge of plants, and engaging students with plant science early in their studies is arguably an important step in reversing the decline in uptake of this vulnerable yet strategically important subject linked to food security and other globally important issues. Prof Alison Baker of the Centre for Plant Sciences at the University of Leeds, says of the TREE: “The aim is to put a tool in the hands of educators that will engage students in plant science and research, especially where expertise is becoming limited.”

Our recent study, published in New Phytologist, showed the online research lectures that form a large part of the TREE successfully engage undergraduates with plant science (Levesley et al 2014, New Phytologist Early View).

In this study, undergraduates from four UK universities were provided with links to online research lectures as part of their course. The lectures, filmed at the Gatsby Plant Science summer schools, were given by research leaders but pitched at a level to engage undergraduates and provided a first-hand insight into how discoveries are made and science is carried out.

Not only were the online lectures successful in engaging students with plant science and research in general, but students were unanimous in the opinion that they were a good way to learn about a subject. Interestingly the study also showed that the online viewing experience was comparable to watching the research lectures live.

These online undergraduate research lectures are freely available through the Plant Science TREE. Our study shows they represent a valuable plant science education tool to help lecturers and teachers introduce cutting-edge research examples that address globally relevant applied initiatives – as well as curiosity-driven research – to their students. As such they have the potential to change student attitudes to plant science, engage students in research and are able to reach a large and wide global student audience.

The full reference for the Plant Science TREE paper is: Levesley A, Paxton S, Collins R, Baker A and Knight CD. “Engaging students with plant science: the Plant Science TREE”, New Phytologist http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.12905, published online ahead of print in June 2014.

 

Reports from ICAR 2013 – Emily Breeze

Comments: No Comments
Published on: July 25, 2013

This year GARNet was able to contribute to the travel costs of four students attending ICAR 2013, thanks to a kind donation from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. They will each write an article about their experience – here is the first, by University of Warwick student Emily Breeze.

Emily with her poster; and the inflatable plant cell BioBounce.

Global food security is one of the prominent challenges facing mankind with environmental stresses such as drought and pathogen attack causing significant crop losses worldwide. I am in the final year of my PhD at the University of Warwick researching the role played by the NF-Y transcription factor family in regulating the plant’s response to environmental stress, using the plant model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana.

I was fortunate to receive a travel bursary from GARNet funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, to enable me to attend the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) in Sydney, Australia. ICAR is the primary international scientific conference for the Arabidopsis research community and around 700 delegates from all over the world attended over the five days, including a number of eminent scientists within my field of study. The conference was made up of a mixture of lectures from keynote speakers and concurrent symposium sessions on a wide variety of biological themes including development, epigenetics, proteomics, biotic interactions, systems biology, signalling, phenomics and translational biology. Although some of the topics were not directly related to my own research interests, they introduced me to novel techniques and approaches that I can potentially apply to my own research and/or in the future, as well as broadening my wider understanding of plant biology.

The thirteen keynote lectures given by internationally renowned plant scientists were all captivating. (more…)

page 1 of 1

Follow Me
TwitterRSS
GARNetweets
November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Welcome , today is Wednesday, November 22, 2017