In the Fall of 2011, Professor Lynne Cassimeris led a special topics course with 3 graduate and 2 undergraduate students. The result of the class was a published paper with all students as co-authors. We asked Dr.
Cassimeris and the students to share their experience with you.
|Lynne Cassimeris, Ph.D.
To Dr. Cassimeris:
We hear you taught an unusual course in the fall of 2011. What did you do?
I offered a special topics course at the undergraduate and graduate level. Five students (2 undergrads, 3 grads) were brave enough to register. We worked as a team to research a hypothesis linking two areas in cell biology that aren't usually linked together. In a nutshell, we explored whether the internal skeleton of the cell, the microtubules, regulates multiple steps in intracellular metabolism. We researched each metabolic step and possible microtubule regulation and found plenty of evidence to support the hypothesis. We then wrote a manuscript reviewing the literature and proposing our hypothesis. Each student wrote and revised a section of the manuscript and I then combined all the sections, added introductory and concluding sections, checked all the facts cited by the students and revised the writing to have one voice throughout. We submitted the manuscript right after the Thanksgiving break and finally received three reviewers comments and a summary letter from the journal editor in late December. The students worked over the Christmas break to revise the manuscript, as suggested by the anonymous reviewers.
How did the students respond to the peer review process?
Two of the reviews were very positive and suggested very minor changes to improve the writing. But there's always a third reviewer, and he/she had more critical comments that made us re-think a paragraph or two. I think the students were a bit surprised by this more critical review. It was a good experience for all of them.
Was your manuscript accepted?
Yes, it was accepted in January and just came out in the journal Cytoskeleton in March (volume 69, No. 3, 2012). The publisher generously provided each student with their own copy of this issue of the journal.
To the Students:
Dr. Cassimeris told us about the course you took in the fall of 2011. How did you find the experience?
Victoria Caruso Silva (graduate student): I really enjoyed the class. Our research topic was particularly interesting and we all worked well as a team. In the end it was both exciting and gratifying to have our efforts result in a publication.
Quynh Ton (graduate student): The class provided me an excellent experience. I learned how to write a paper efficiently enough so that we could get it accepted for publication and learned how to prepare for the process of publication. It was a good class, I got a chance to review my knowledge about biochemistry and got a chance to learn new topics.
John Fong (graduate student): That was a unique learning experience that I wouldn’t normally receive in a regular classroom setting. Through the course, I had the opportunity to practice scientific writing and publication processing. The skills and knowledge that I learned from the course are very important for my professional development. Those skill sets will serve me well for the rest of my scientific career.
Cody Molnar (Undergrad Class of '12): Wonderful! I thought it was a very valuable experience.
Elizabeth Miller (Undergrad Class of '12): The course was unlike any other class I have taken at Lehigh University. Dr. Cassimeris taught me how to synthesize ideas pertaining to the field of biology rather than simply memorizing information. Through the experience, I learned how to independently analyze information and discuss information cooperatively with a group. Additionally, she gave me experience in how articles in science are written, proofread, submitted, and finally, published. This was a novel course that I think every science student should experience!