IPLS Poster Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Poster Title: Can understanding different scientific cultures and practices in Biology and Physics lead to better teaching of Introductory Physics to biologists?
Abstract: The foundations of biology depend on physics: life obeys physical laws and the instruments of biology are often derived from research in physics. In addition, physics "thinking" has yielded Nobel-level insights into biology. However, the complexity of biological systems are poorly understood, often making the machinery of physics difficult to apply.  The disciplines remain largely siloed.  To better understand the perceptions of biologists about physics, we conducted on anonymous, on-line survey of the biology faculty and graduate students at UMass Boston (n= 14, n =17 respectively). The survey asked about the importance of other scientific disciplines (Atmospheric Sciences, Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, GIS, Mathematics, Oceanography, Physics, Statistics) in their research programs. The survey showed that biologists value bioinformatics and statistics more than the other eight disciplines. Furthermore, in all four questions biologists ranked Chemistry as more important than Physics. Biologists also believe they use Mathematics more than Physics. There was some evidence that biologists value Physics but they use it infrequently. We suggest that greater communication between biologists and physicists and efforts to point out the importance of the other discipline when teaching introductory courses might be important first steps to breaking down the discipline silos.
Poster Category: Education Research
Poster File: Download the Poster File

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Robert D. Stevenson
Biology Department, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Phone: 617-287-6579
Co-Author(s) Jonathan Celli