Two College of Sciences Faculty Earn Innovation Incubator Grants

June 24, 2024

Principal Academic Professionals Linda Green from the School of Biological Sciences and Mary Peek from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been awarded Innovation Incubator grants from the Institute's Transformative Teaching and Learning (TTL) initiative. The grants support the development, implementation, and evaluation of transformative teaching projects in undergraduate courses and focus on CUREs (course-based undergraduate research experiences). 

They are part of the second round of TTL grants awarded to Georgia Tech faculty—and the first to go to faculty from the College of Sciences. Peek's initiative in the Biochemistry Laboratory II class will enable students to engage in hands-on research, while Green's Urban Ecology students will focus on studying the impact of green infrastructure in urban settings.

“The projects proposed by these College of Science faculty will bring the real world into—and beyond the traditional classroom,” says Kate Williams, QEP faculty co-director for the Office of Undergraduate Education and a senior academic professional for the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) who leads faculty-facing efforts for the TTL initiative. “We congratulate Peek and Green who earned these grants, but the real winners are the students who will benefit from these exciting experiential education programs.”

Mary Peek: Next Level Biochemical Education, Learning through Mini-CUREs 

In Peek’s CHEM 4582 – Biochemistry Laboratory II class, students will design and conduct experiments to support research projects spearheaded by Biochemistry faculty.

“As a career educator, I am always looking for ways to transform and improve both teaching and learning,” says Peek. “With this grant, I am especially excited to empower my students to stop thinking of themselves as students —and start thinking of themselves as scientists.”

Biochemistry Laboratory II students will begin the semester doing planned experiments to learn the basics of working in a laboratory and then conduct their own research, proposing an experimental design to investigate the established problems presented by faculty. Biochemistry professors and their designated liaisons will serve as “clients” for the student teams. 

“We hope to transform student learning by establishing a real-world research scenario where students take more ownership of their contributions, defend their work, and gain an appreciation for how challenging scientific discovery can be,” says Peek. “If the students generate quality data that has merit and addresses the problem effectively, they even have the potential to get their work published.” 

Throughout the semester, there will be frequent opportunities to consult and collaborate with research faculty, teaching assistants, and other students in the class. The course culminates in seminar-style presentations of students’ work. 

“My goal is for the Biochemistry Teaching Laboratory Mini-CUREs to inspire more critical and creative thinking, motivating students to integrate their knowledge and skills, collaborate more effectively, and become life-long learners,” sums up Peek.

Linda Green: Testing the Impact of Green Infrastructure in Urban Ecology 

Green will use the award to add an experiential component to her BIOS 4803: Urban Ecology class.

“This grant provides an opportunity to immerse students in the outdoors and provide valuable hands-on research to supplement their classroom experience,” says Green.

Students in the class will explore interactions between nature and people in city settings, investigating the impact of nature on the supply of healthy air, water, and food, as well as the human impact of climate change, pollution, and habitat alteration on urban biodiversity. 

“Nature exists within the gray infrastructure of buildings and roads,” says Green. “I’m excited to see where the students take their research—to not just find connections between nature and city life—but then share that knowledge with others.” 

Students will be challenged to develop a project around an element of green infrastructure, then document its effectiveness in improving the community.

“For their final projects, I’m envisioning a website where student findings will be highlighted in museum-style infographics to communicate the science to a public audience,” says Green.

For More Information Contact

Laura S. Smith 
Communications Officer II 
College of Sciences