A forum for exchange and discussion amongst educators and students in microbial evolution

It is easy to find an evolution textbook and many of us have taken one (or many) classes. Same for microbiology… But microbial evolution? It is a burgeoning field with a dearth of resources for teaching. I created a lecture/discussion style class (inventively entitled Microbial Evolution) from scratch, and from discussions with others I am far from alone. In an effort to help catalyze a community that values teaching I have decided to try to create a website in which ideas and information can be shared and questions can be asked.

Who is this website for?

The primary community this is aimed at is educators in microbial evolution. This will largely be university/college professors, but it would be great to include ideas useful for high school courses, etc. A second community would be particularly motivated students who are looking for ideas for self-study. These new grad students/postdocs, or even ambitious undergrads, can perhaps take hold of some of the resources below as a guide for beginning their own exploration into the field.

Key aspects:

1. Example syllabi, projects, or even lectures.

These will be supplied by members of the community for the open usage of others. Much of this material will be from lecture/discussion style courses, but information from project-based lab courses would also be fantastic to highlight.

2. Forum for discussion and exchange.

We are deciding upon what is the best technical solution to allow for user-initiated discussion threads. If you have a hard time finding a good visual to describe the effect of drift on gene frequencies, want to know what are ideas for papers to use for discussion of what a bacterial species is, etc., you can post this for others to answer.

3. Resources for use in outreach activities or high school education.

For those of us who have participated in various teaching activities outside of our own classes, it would be great to share these with others.

4. Free videos made by users to describe key concepts or research findings.

These can be quite useful in courses and would be great to have them collected (at least as a series of links to Youtube, for example. Student-made videos, in particular, will be fantastic to include.

5. Finally, a list of investigators in the field as a resource for graduate students/postdocs to consider would be quite useful.

This can even go so far as to include job postings, like a mini-evoldir.

I will be ‘unveiling’ this website at the upcoming Microbial Population Biology Gordon Research Conference and looking to solicit ideas and volunteers to contribute material.

If you have any input or suggestions please email me at info@MicrobialEvolution.org or cmarx (at) uidaho.edu.