Conference on Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences

March 14 -16, 2014
Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington, VA

The conference, supported in part by National Science Foundation grant 1322895, focused on introductory physics courses taken by the full spectrum of life science students, including pre-medical and other pre-health students, biology students aiming for careers in biological research or biotechnology, and students interested in ecology and related areas. Presentations covered both content and pedagogy issues for Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences (IPLS) courses, including associated laboratory work. The program also highlighted physics and biology education research related to IPLS courses.

The conference had a mix of plenary, panel, and breakout sessions covering the following topics:

  • How can introductory physics best serve the wide range of life science students, including pre-health students, future biology basic researchers, organismal biologists, and ecologists?
  • What do biology faculty members expect their students to learn in introductory physics courses?
  • Implications of the revised MCAT for IPLS courses
  • Differences between biology and physics education: the role of energy, systems thinking, and so on.
  • The role of biology education research and physics education research in building effective IPLS courses.
  • Case studies of innovative IPLS courses.
  • Innovative laboratory work for IPLS courses.
  • Physics courses for life science students beyond the introductory level.
  • Accommodating a wide range of mathematical preparations in IPLS courses.
  • Convincing your colleagues that enhancing IPLS courses is important.
  • Formulating learning goals and course objectives for a variety of IPLS courses.