Erin Dolan is a Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Science Education at the University of Georgia. As a graduate student in Neuroscience at University of California San Francisco, she volunteered extensively in K-12 schools, which prompted her to pursue a career in biology education. She teaches introductory biology and biochemistry, and her research group studies scalable ways of engaging students in science research and mentoring of undergraduate researchers in the life sciences. In 2014-2016, she served as founding Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Sciences (TIDES), the teaching innovation initiative in the College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin. She has designed and led a wide range of professional development on active learning and mentoring, including intensive sessions for faculty to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences. Her group's research and programming has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, including a support for CUREnet, a network of people and programs integrating research experiences into undergraduate courses. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the leading biology education journal, CBE – Life Sciences Education.
SPREE: Social Psychology of Research Experiences and Education
Our research group is interested in how social psychological and sociocultural phenomena influence student learning, development, and success. Our group primarily studies research experiences, including undergraduate and graduate research, as a context for teaching, learning, and mentoring. In particular, we study course-based undergraduate research experiences (often called CUREs; see website for CUREnet) and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate researchers in the life sciences. We also study how interpersonal interactions and configurations promote or hinder student learning and success in biology courses. We make use of theory and methods from social and organizational psychology to understand the interpersonal and contextual factors that influence undergraduates’ access to research and their personal and professional development through research, as well as how research experiences and research mentoring influence their educational and career trajectories.
I teach two courses completed by many life science majors:
BIOL 1107. Principles of Biology I.
This course is designed to prepare students for more specialized coursework in the molecular and cellular life sciences. It is intended to complement BIOL 1108, Principles of Biology II, which focuses on organismal biology and ecology. In both courses, students will develop an understanding of five core concepts in biology:
- Evolution: The diversity of life evolved over time by processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change.
- Structure and function: Basic units of structure define the function of all living things.
- Information flow: The growth and behavior of organisms occur through the expression of genetic information in context.
- Transformations of energy and matter: Biological systems, from cells to organisms to ecosystems, grow and change by processes based on chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
- Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting over multiple scales.
BCMB/BIOL/CHEM 3100. Introductory Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
The overall objectives for this course are for students to:
- Explain how macromolecules (proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids) are synthesized and metabolized.
- Explain the relationship between macromolecular structure and function.
- Explain how enzymes function, including their mechanisms and regulation.
- Explain the energetics of biochemical reactions.
- Explain the idea of “flux” and its relationship to the function and regulation of metabolic pathways.
- Explain how chemical parameters, such as pH and availability of energy, affect biological processes.
- Apply the knowledge above to solve biochemical problems.
- Apply the knowledge above to analyze, interpret, and evaluate biochemical data.
I design all of my courses for students to:
- Gain new knowledge about biology through readings and lectures
- Develop their thinking skills, primarily by applying their new knowledge to answer questions, analyzing data and scenarios, and solving problems either during class or on homework assignments
- Work with broadly relevant and daily life examples that illustrate what I find fun, interesting, and exciting about the life sciences in the hopes that students will find it fun, interesting, and exciting, too.
- University of California, San Francisco, Ph.D., 1999
- Biology, Wellesley College, B.A., 1993
For a complete list of publications, see Google Scholar
On scalable ways of involving students in research:
- Corwin, L. A., Runyon, C. R., Ghanem, E., Sandy, M., Clark, G., Palmer, G. C., ... & Dolan, E. L. (2018). Effects of Discovery, Iteration, and Collaboration in Laboratory Courses on Undergraduates’ Research Career Intentions Fully Mediated by Student Ownership. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 17(2), ar20. Link
- Dolan, E.L. (2016). Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. Paper commissioned for the Committee on Strengthening Research Experiences for Undergraduate STEM Students. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Board on Life Sciences, Division of Earth and Life Studies. Link
- Rodenbusch, S.E., Hernandez, P.R., Simmons, S.L., and Dolan, E.L. (2016). Early Engagement in Course-Based Research Increases Graduation Rates and Completion of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Degrees. CBE - Life Sciences Education 15, ar20. Link
- Thompson, J.J., Conaway, E., and Dolan, E.L. (2015). Undergraduate students’ development of social, cultural, and human capital in a networked research experience. Cultural Studies of Science Education 1–32. Link
- Corwin, L.A., Graham, M.J., Dolan, E.L. (2015) Modeling course-based undergraduate research experiences: an agenda for future research and evaluation. CBE - Life Sciences Education 14, es1. Link
- Alkaher, I., Dolan, E. L. (2014). Integrating research into undergraduate courses: Current practices and future directions. In Sunal, D., Sunal, C. & Wright, E., Mason, C., and Zollman, D. (Eds.), Research based undergraduate science teaching. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub. Link
- Corwin Auchincloss, L., Laursen, S. L., Branchaw, J. L., Eagan, K., Graham, M., Hanauer, D. I., Lawrie, G., McLinn, C. M., Pelaez, N., Rowland, S., Towns, M., Trautmann, N. M., Varma-Nelson, P., Weston, T. J., Dolan, E. L. (2014). Assessment of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences: A meeting report. CBE - Life Sciences Education 13(1), 29–40. Link
On undergraduate research mentoring:
- Aikens, M. L., Robertson, M. M., Sadselia, S., Watkins, K., Evans, M., Runyon, C. R., ... & Dolan, E. L. (2017). Race and Gender Differences in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Structures and Research Outcomes. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 16(2), ar34. Link
- Aikens, M.L., Sadselia, S., Watkins, K., Evans, M., Eby, L.T., and Dolan, E.L. (2016). A Social Capital Perspective on the Mentoring of Undergraduate Life Science Researchers: An Empirical Study of Undergraduate–Postgraduate–Faculty Triads. CBE - Life Sciences Education 15, ar16. Link
- Corwin, L.A., Runyon, C., Robinson, A., and Dolan, E.L. (2015). The Laboratory Course Assessment Survey: A Tool to Measure Three Dimensions of Research-Course Design. CBE Life Sci Educ 14, ar37. Link
- Hanauer, D. I., Dolan, E. L. (2014). The Project Ownership Survey: Measuring differences in scientific inquiry experiences. CBE - Life Sciences Education 13(1), 149–58. Link