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      Is Community Relevance Enough? Civic and Science Identity Impact of Microbiology CUREs Focused on Community Environmental Justice

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          Abstract

          Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) often involve a component where the outcomes of student research are broadly relevant to outside stakeholders. We wanted to see if building courses around an environmental justice issue relevant to the local community would impact students’ sense of civic engagement and appreciation of the relevance of scientific research to the community. In this quasi-experimental study, we assessed civic engagement and scientific identity gains ( N = 98) using pre- and post-semester surveys and open-ended interview responses in three different CUREs taught simultaneously at three different universities. All three CURES were focused on an environmental heavy metal pollution issue predominantly affecting African–Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. While we found increases in students’ sense of science efficacy and identity, our team was unable to detect meaningful changes in civic engagement levels, all of which were initially quite high. However, interviews suggested that students were motivated to do well in their research because the project was of interest to outside stakeholders. Our observations suggest that rather than directly influencing students’ civic engagement, the “broadly relevant” component of our CUREs engaged their pre-existing high levels of engagement to increase their engagement with the material, possibly influencing gains in science efficacy and science identity. Our observations are consistent with broader community relevance being an important component of CURE success, but do not support our initial hypothesis that CURE participation would influence students’ attitudes toward the civic importance of science.

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          Most cited references34

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          Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

          Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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            Ultra-high-throughput microbial community analysis on the Illumina HiSeq and MiSeq platforms

            DNA sequencing continues to decrease in cost with the Illumina HiSeq2000 generating up to 600 Gb of paired-end 100 base reads in a ten-day run. Here we present a protocol for community amplicon sequencing on the HiSeq2000 and MiSeq Illumina platforms, and apply that protocol to sequence 24 microbial communities from host-associated and free-living environments. A critical question as more sequencing platforms become available is whether biological conclusions derived on one platform are consistent with what would be derived on a different platform. We show that the protocol developed for these instruments successfully recaptures known biological results, and additionally that biological conclusions are consistent across sequencing platforms (the HiSeq2000 versus the MiSeq) and across the sequenced regions of amplicons.
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              Development of a dual-index sequencing strategy and curation pipeline for analyzing amplicon sequence data on the MiSeq Illumina sequencing platform.

              Rapid advances in sequencing technology have changed the experimental landscape of microbial ecology. In the last 10 years, the field has moved from sequencing hundreds of 16S rRNA gene fragments per study using clone libraries to the sequencing of millions of fragments per study using next-generation sequencing technologies from 454 and Illumina. As these technologies advance, it is critical to assess the strengths, weaknesses, and overall suitability of these platforms for the interrogation of microbial communities. Here, we present an improved method for sequencing variable regions within the 16S rRNA gene using Illumina's MiSeq platform, which is currently capable of producing paired 250-nucleotide reads. We evaluated three overlapping regions of the 16S rRNA gene that vary in length (i.e., V34, V4, and V45) by resequencing a mock community and natural samples from human feces, mouse feces, and soil. By titrating the concentration of 16S rRNA gene amplicons applied to the flow cell and using a quality score-based approach to correct discrepancies between reads used to construct contigs, we were able to reduce error rates by as much as two orders of magnitude. Finally, we reprocessed samples from a previous study to demonstrate that large numbers of samples could be multiplexed and sequenced in parallel with shotgun metagenomes. These analyses demonstrate that our approach can provide data that are at least as good as that generated by the 454 platform while providing considerably higher sequencing coverage for a fraction of the cost.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-302X
                17 December 2020
                2020
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham, AL, United States
                [2] 2Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Samford University , Birmingham, AL, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Laura Bowater, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom

                Reviewed by: Erin E. McClelland, Independent Researcher, Murfreesboro, United States; Ulrike Kappler, The University of Queensland, Australia

                *Correspondence: J. Jeffrey Morris, evolve@ 123456uab.edu

                This article was submitted to Systems Microbiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology

                Article
                10.3389/fmicb.2020.578520
                7793635
                33424782
                34749c65-acd0-43ff-b582-09e4bd88e0fe
                Copyright © 2020 Adkins-Jablonsky, Akscyn, Bennett, Roberts and Morris.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 35, Pages: 10, Words: 0
                Funding
                Funded by: National Science Foundation 10.13039/100000001
                Award ID: 1826988
                Award ID: 1450078
                Funded by: University of Alabama at Birmingham 10.13039/100008333
                Award ID: CAS Interdisciplinary Research Grant
                Award ID: IRACDA-MERIT Program
                Categories
                Microbiology
                Original Research

                Microbiology & Virology
                civic engagement,community,microbiology laboratory education,science identity,course-based undergraduate research experience

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