20.109(S22):Module 3

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20.109(S22): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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Spring 2022 schedule        FYI        Assignments        Homework        Class data        Communication        Accessibility

       M1: Drug discovery        M2: Metabolic engineering        M3: Project design       

Module 3: Research design

At the core of scientific discovery is building on the research of others to push the field forward. To accomplish this an iterative process is used to answer research questions: manipulate, measure, mine and model, and modify.

Manipulate: The first step in answering a research question is often designing and performing an experiment. The existing literature is an important resource at this stage as it provides information on what has already been done. In addition, the literature is useful in identifying which types experimental methods are appropriate for answering your specific research question. After the experiment is designed, the fun part of actually doing the benchwork can start.

Measure: It is not enough to just do an experiment. For the work to be meaningful, the data need to be collected and analyzed. The methods used for this stage in the process are just as important as those used for designing and performing the experiment. The type of analysis used is dependent on the experimental approach employed and on how the data are typically presented in the field. It is important that researchers in your same area of expertise are able to understand the data.

Mine and Model: After the data analysis is complete, it is time to figure out what the results mean in the context of the research question. As in the designing stage, here the existing literature is an important resource. The literature often provides context for your results. By exploring the literature it is possible to find links to your data that support the results.

Modify: Though the last stage in this list, this step really leads to a more refined research question...which will require you to design and perform a new experiment. Now that you have completed the stages of an experiment, here you use the results and information you gathered to improve the initial plan!

In the final module you will engage in the first step in this process by working with your co-investigator (or laboratory partner) to develop a research proposal in the field of biological engineering. Though this may seem like a daunting task, the goal of this module is to walk you through the process!

Image generated using BioRender.

Lab links: day to day

M3D1: Brainstorm ideas for Research proposal presentation
M3D2: Develop ideas for Research proposal presentation
M3D3: Participate in Research proposal peer reviews

Major assignment

Research proposal presentation