Session S57 (Wednesday, 9:30am, Life Sciences 009)

P635: Nature’s Medicine Cabinet: An interdisciplinary course designed to enhance student learning by investigating the ecological roles of natural products in plant-insect interactions

Amy Witter (Dickinson College, USA)

Here we describe the first iteration of an NSF-sponsored undergraduate course, Nature’s Medicine Cabinet, which fosters an interdisciplinary approach to modern science.  Our problem-based course is designed to train science students with interests in chemistry and biology to work in small teams to investigate the ecological roles of natural products (terpenes, phenolics, alkaloids, and volatile organic compounds) in plant-insect interactions using modern analytical methods. The field of chemical ecology provides a fertile testing ground for this interdisciplinary model because it naturally bridges the “distinctive cultures” of chemistry and biology (Kornberg, 1987) to investigate the role of natural products in nature.

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