Network For Biological Data Literacy

As part of an NSF Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) Incubator project, a network of biology educators from community colleges in Washington state and scientists from the Institute of Systems Biology engages in professional learning experiences with the following goals:

  • Improve the preparation of community college students by increasing achievement and learning of quantitative biology research methods in intro biology courses through classroom-based undergraduate research experiences; and,
  • Improve undergraduate biology learning environments by enhancing undergraduate faculty teaching of quantitative biology research methods.


The network includes:

Name  Institute Role
Barcin Acar (she/her) Lake Washington Institute of Technology Participant
Catherine Crosby (They/Them) Clark College Participant
Christian Diener


Institute for Systems Biology Scientific advisor
Claudia Ludwig (she/her) Institute for Systems Biology Education advisor
Getachew Eshete (he/him) Cascadia College Participant
Gita Bangera


Bellevue College Co-PI
Irene Shaver (she/her) Bellevue College Project communications & Evaluator
Jen Eklund (she/her) Institute for Systems Biology Project PI
Khai Button
Cascadia College Participant
Kim Harrington


Tacoma Community College Co-PI
Kristen Joachimides


North Seattle College Participant
Kristian Haapa-aho


Bellevue College Participant
Michael Rodriguez (he/him) Lake Washington Institute of Technology Participant
Pattie Green (she/her) Tacoma Community College Participant
Rainer Stahlberg Lake Washington Institute of Technology Participant
Scott Robertson


Olympic college Participant
Sean Gibbons (he/him) Institute for Systems Biology Scientific advisor


Developed by the network:

  • Classroom activities – The network has built a series of activities designed to be implemented in the biology majors series. The resources are currently being piloted. To be involved in piloting the materials please contact Jen Eklund.
  • Videos – To meet the needs of students, the network created a short video about systems biology and a short video about math in biology.
  • Formative Assessment – 

What: This is a much less traditional survey and provides a mostly anonymous way for students to look at each other’s data in the form of a heat map.

How: Make a copy of the Google sheet and share the link with the students. Each student selects a column and enters a number for their level of agreement with the statements in column 1. The conditional formatting is automatic and changes the number to a color. Once the students have had a chance to enter their responses, the whole class can reflect by direct observation of the heat map and using the summary statistics on the far right. Potential reflection questions:

      • Do you notice any patterns in the data? What questions do you have about the data?
      • Based on your own responses to the heatmap, what is a quantitative reasoning area where you feel most strong and why? What is an area where you would like to grow and why? 
      • In two to three sentences please describe how working with big datasets and using quantitative reasoning helps biologists understand the natural world. (By quantitative reasoning we mean organizing numerical data, and using basic math, visual representations of data, models, and statistics to draw conclusions.) Please give an example of one way biologists have used data to understand a natural phenomenon. 
  • QUBES Hub Group (in development)


From Others: