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Kathleen A. Nolan
Department of Biology, Health Promotion and Health Care Management
St. Francis College
Cystic Fibrosis: Then and Now

This PowerPoint-driven, flipped case study begins with a short video about a woman suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF) in the 1970s, a friend of the lead author's, whom she met in college and who died in her twenties. Hooked by this personal story, students then delve into the genetics and biology of cystic fibrosis as they learn about the difference between dominant and recessive genes, make Punnett squares that depict various types of inheritance, distinguish between probability and actual numbers, differentiate types of mutations, and learn about the opportunistic infections that CF patients often succumb to.  Students conclude the case by watching two additional videos on chest compression machines and the contemporary life expectancy of patients with CF.  In addition to the scientific content presented in the case, it is hoped that students will empathize with, and be motivated by, the young people presented in the videos as they struggle with a very real, incurable disease deeply rooted in genetics.

The Horseshoe Crab: A True Blue Blood

This case study examines the population dynamics of the horseshoe crab, which is sometimes described as a “living fossil.” Students are shown PowerPoint slides that are interspersed with clicker questions about the biology, life history strategies, and economic importance of this declining species. The paleontology of the horseshoe crab, differences between males and females, reproductive strategies, and the importance to the biomedical industry and fishing industries are discussed. After the presentation, students participate in a stakeholder activity in which they role-play the various players involved in the plight of the horseshoe crab, including scientists, medical workers, bird watchers, hotel owners, eel fishermen, shell fishermen and others. Students are asked to reach a consensus on the best way to manage the population of this species. The case, which takes about 80 minutes of class time to complete, has been used in a variety of courses including ecology, marine biology and a freshman honors seminar course titled “Current Water and Sustainability.”