First-year biology students look into microscopesFirst-year students test a new lab that will instruct them in several facets of cancer education.

Student-faculty partnership creates cancer biology teaching lab

A newly-designed undergraduate biology teaching lab will allow students to start studying cancer in their first year. Biology professor Dora Cavallo-Medved worked with a team of undergraduates to create the lab that will teach several facets of cancer education, including the biology of cancer and clinical trials.

The teaching lab received a Promotion of Experiential and Active Research-Based Learning (PEARL) grant. Four undergraduate biology students, Rachel Andrews, Yucca Albano, Youshaa El-Abed and Melanie Grondin, led the project and worked in partnership with Let’s Talk Science and the Windsor Cancer Research Group (WCRG).

“This is a great opportunity to have our first year biology students introduced early to the basic science, translational and clinical aspects of cancer research,” says Dr. Cavallo-Medved. “In addition, our undergraduate research team have had the unique experience to be directly involved in curriculum development, as well as getting invited to present their work at several teaching and learning conferences.”

Fourth-year biology student Yucca Albano volunteers with Let’s Talk Science and WCRG. She oversaw first-year students who tested the lab, and is currently working with the team to adapt materials for community hands-on workshops.

“As active volunteers in Let’s Talk Science, we visit grade schools and high schools in Windsor and Essex County to teach about science,” says Albano. “Showcasing our research to the community helps build pride in the university, because the cancer research we are doing here is truly making a difference in the world.

“We shouldn’t just keep that to ourselves on campus. We need to share it with everyone.”

The new cancer biology lab will be incorporated into the first-year Cell Biology course in September 2017.