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En Garde! Animal Structures and What They Mean
In most animals, the drive to breed and produce offspring is strong. However, most males live their whole lives without having the chance to breed. The events leading up to mating can be very dangerous and also very costly to an individual. Some males ...

A Botched Botox Party in the Hamptons
This flipped case study explores how the topics of membrane structure, transport, and signaling via membrane-bound receptors are intimately associated with the paralysis of muscle targeted by botulinum neurotoxin. The case scenario revolves around a fi...

A Can of Bull
This case study is designed to teach students at various levels about large biomolecules, nutrition, and product analysis. Students conduct a biochemical analysis of several popular energy drinks on the market, which many students purchase at fairly hi...

A Case in Point: From Active Learning to the Job Market
This case was developed for use in the first weeks of a course in order to show students how participating in active learning exercises in their classes can benefit them. It uses the fictionalized story of a manager of a scientific consulting firm who ...

A Case of Acute Pancreatitis
The pancreas is the source of the bulk of digestive enzymes that act upon the contents of the small intestine. The normal function of the pancreas can be studied in the context of acute pancreatitis, an inflammatory disease with a sudden onset. In this...

A Case Study Involving Influenza and the Influenza Vaccine
This interrupted case study presents a discussion about the benefits of the influenza vaccine between Mary, a nursing student, and her coworker, Karen. Karen is not convinced by Mary’s arguments in favor of vaccination, and she counters with seve...

A Case Study of Memory Loss in Mice
This discussion case explores the scientific process involved in implementing an animal model in the study of Alzheimer’s disease. Students read a short paragraph describing a study in which the brains of “trained” mice were injected ...

A Curious Mission: An Analysis of Martian Molecules
In this case study, students play the role of a NASA scientist tasked with analyzing samples of atmosphere and soil collected on Mars as part of the Mars Curiosity Mission. The case study takes place in the future when samples of the Martian atmosphere...

A Deadly Passion
This "clicker case" teaches students about the distinction between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior using the fascinating courtship and mating rituals of the Australian redback spider. The case is presented in class via a PowerPoint presentati...

A Devil of a Disease
Since its first recorded appearance in 1996, Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has wiped out an estimated 70 percent of the Tasmanian devil population. Scientists considered bacterial, viral, chemical, parasitic, and genetic causes before det...

A Diet to Die For
This clicker case is designed to lead students to a conceptual understanding of oxidative phosphorylation (and, by analogy, photosynthesis). Students begin with a pre-class handout that presents background information on DNP, a weight-loss drug that wa...

A Different Kind of Stress
Protein folding and trafficking is essential for normal cell function, and when it goes awry it can lead to various chronic conditions, including fatty liver disease, diabetes, and Parkinson's. The narrative of this case study follows two undergraduate...

A Family in Need: In-Class Case Study on Cancer Genetics
This case is designed as an in-class, problem-based learning activity for students to learn about several innovative medical applications of molecular biology. Students assume the role of a second-year medical student assigned to work with a pediatric ...

A Family in Need: Internet-Enhanced Case Study on Cancer Genetics
This problem-based learning case was designed for students to learn about several innovative medical applications of molecular biology. Students assume the role of a second-year medical student assigned to work with a pediatric oncologist who has just ...

A Healthy Retirement?
Nancy has been looking forward to her retirement and a chance to entertain and travel with her husband Jim. But she hasn’t been feeling well. She’s often tired, and recently she’s been experiencing a burning sensation in her lower che...

A Metabolic Storm
This "clicker" case presents the true story of a 20-year-old athlete who developed a life threatening reaction to anesthesia during a simple elective surgical procedure. His response was unexpected, but not unusual for individuals who possess an inheri...

A Need for Needles - Acupuncture
In this case study, students evaluate information about the use of acupuncture and consider the possibilities of alternative therapies while at the same time questioning their effectiveness. To complete the case, students collect information from Inter...

A Pain in the Gut
This interrupted case study in gastric physiology follows the story of Frank, a businessman under a lot of stress who has a car accident while driving home from work one night. Frank has low blood insulin levels and high blood sugar levels that his doc...

A Perfect Storm in the Operating Room
In this interrupted case study, a high school biology student shadows her uncle, an anesthesiologist, at a hospital for a school assignment. She witnesses a patient who has an unusual reaction to his anesthesia and nearly dies.  As they try to dia...

A Recipe for Invention
In this case study, designed to help break down stereotypes about scientists and engineers, students research the personal and professional lives of researchers in their field. The case was designed for use in high school to graduate courses in a varie...

A Right to Her Genes
In this true story, students examine the case of a woman with a family predisposition to cancer who is considering genetic testing. Students learn about various aspects of DNA testing and determine how to counsel the woman. The case was designed for an...

A Rigorous Investigation
In this directed case study, students investigate the cause of death in an incident that occurs late at night in a research lab. The overall goal of the case is to make the abstract concepts involved in cellular respiration more accessible to students....

A Search for the Right Answer
In this role-playing case study on Parkinson’s disease, students learn about brain injury and brain repair mechanisms, the physical and psychological effects of a degenerative disease on a patient and her family, the ethics of fetal tissue resear...

A Sickeningly Sweet Baby Boy
When a newborn develops symptoms eerily similar to those of an older sibling who died shortly after birth, his Mennonite parents are understandably alarmed. They soon discover that their son has Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), a recessively inherited...

A Simple Plan
This case study introduces students to Dr. E.L. Trudeau, who performed a seminal early experiment validating the germ theory of infection. Part I introduces Trudeau's Rabbit Island experiment, which is simple and easy for beginning or non-major student...

A Struggle for Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam in China is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, providing energy for millions of people. However, the dam's construction forever altered the Yangtze River ecosystem and the lives of local residents. In this case study, s...

A Tale of Three Lice
This “clicker case” explores the questions of when hominins lost their body hair and began wearing clothing by examining the surprising phylogeny of human head, body, and pubic lice. Students are led through the scientific process as they a...

A Trip to the Beach
This interrupted case study, designed for an introductory biology or environmental science course, introduces students to the complexity of ecosystems by examining changes in trophic interactions and abiotic factors in a freshwater ecosystem as a resul...

A Whale of a Tale?
For years whale evolution was characterized by speculation and limited evidence. Evolution critics even focused on whales as a means to criticize evolutionary theory. Now whale evolution represents one of the best examples of "macroevolution." This "cl...

A Yellow-Bellied Lawyer?
This interrupted case study tells the story of Michael, a Harvard law graduate with a stressful job and a seemingly heavy drinking problem. Students are provided with background information, medical history, and lab results in order to guide them towar...

Abracadabra
This case introduces students to HIV, its life cycle, treatment, and problems associated with treatment options. The case, which incorporates critical thinking skills, active learning, self-directed study, and peer-to-peer learning, was developed for u...

Acids, pH, and Buffers
In this “clicker case,” a three-year-old girl gets into the medicine cabinet and ingests an unknown number of aspirin tablets. Her brother calls 911 and the girl is taken to a nearby hospital, where she is treated. The case is used to discu...

African Illness: A Case of Parasites?
This case is based on a British patient presenting to a hospital with an array of symptoms after returning from an African safari. Students learn about potential causes of the symptoms based on the patient's potential exposure to parasites endemic to A...

Agony and Ecstasy
This “clicker case” follows Susan, an intern at a local hospital, who has admitted a patient she discovers has used the drug Ecstasy. The girl becomes delirious, and Susan begins to suspect that she may be suffering from water intoxication....

AH-CHOO!
As the carbon dioxide concentration of our atmosphere increases and our climate warms, the hay fever season seems to be getting longer and more severe. In this case study, students assume the a role of a public relations specialist contracted to commun...

AIDS and the Duesberg Phenomenon
Renowned virologist and member of the prestigious National Academy of Science, Peter Duesberg has argued that AIDS is not caused by HIV, but is the result of recreational and anti-HIV drugs.  In this PBL case, students read Duesberg’s 1999 a...

Aliens on Earth?
The discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA was announced with much fanfare in 2010. It was immediately and very publicly critiqued by researchers posting their analyses of the paper on their blogs. The author...

All or Nothing
In this interrupted case study, students pose as an intern of a neuromuscular/skeletal specialist and discover how sarin and myasthenia gravis influence muscle function. Students are given background information about the patients and their situations,...

Am I a Girl, or a Boy?
A baby is born with ambiguous genitalia to parents from the Dominican Republic and is determined to be a female based on general appearance.  At the child's 12-year-old checkup, the parents and the child are distraught as they report to the pediat...

Amanda's Absence
When chronic pain forces a top student to withdraw from college, biology instructor Dr. Sharpe learns that medications (in this case, Vioxx) may be removed from the market for many reasons, including safety concerns. As the case unfolds, students learn...

Amber's Secret
This problem-based case focuses on the female menstrual cycle and early stages of pregnancy of an unwed teenager. Working in small groups, students identify the learning issues for each part of the story and research answers to their questions. They ar...

An Antipodal Mystery
The discovery of the platypus had the scientific world in an uproar and kept it tantalized for decades. Here was the strangest animal ever seen. How was one to classify it? It had fur. So, was it a mammal? But then what to make of its duck-like bill? A...

An End to Ulcers?
This “clicker case” teaches students about the scientific method by following the story of the discovery of the cause of human gastric ulcers by two Australian biomedical scientists. Students see how the researchers followed up an unusual o...

An Infectious Cure
This four-part interrupted case on phage therapy was developed for a freshmen non-majors course in molecular biology. The case begins with a story inspired by real events where Europeans imposed a treatment for cholera on the unwilling population of an...

An Unusual Case of Animal Reproduction
This case study in human reproduction follows Andrea, a college biology student who discovers she is pregnant with twins, but is not sure who the father is. Students are presented with a variety of signs, symptoms, and physiological information that th...

And Baby Makes Four
This case study is based on stories reported in the media and is used to examine biological and ethical dimensions of assisted reproductive technologies, specifically egg donation and gestational surrogacy.  The case follows an Indian woman as she...

And Now What, Ms. Ranger?
Intelligent Design continues to be a hot political and educational topic in some parts of the country. This discussion case study uses the dramatic setting of a public school board as it considers whether district science teachers should be made to rea...

Andrea: The Death of a Diabetic
In chronicling the life and death of a woman who developed diabetes as a teenager, this case study explores such basic science topics as metabolism, hormones, cell receptors, eye anatomy, and immunology as well as issues in nutrition, exercise, stem ce...

Anencephaly in Yakima
This case study explores the recent (2010 - 2016) outbreak of neural tube defects, specifically anencephaly, in a rural three-county region of Washington state, particularly Yakima, WA. The case study focuses on the biological aspects of teratogens tha...

Another Can of Bull?
This case is a “clicker” adaptation of a similarly titled case by Merle Heidemann and Gerald Urquhart of Michigan State University, “A Can of Bull?” The story introduces students to basic principles of metabolism and energy thro...

Anthrax Attack!
This case study presents a fictitious bio-terrorist plan to release anthrax in the United States. Students are assigned character roles and, through research, role-playing, and teamwork, develop a plan to minimize or avert the attack. The case is appro...

Antibiotic Resistance
Resistance to antibiotics arose very shortly after these "wonder drugs" were first introduced.  This case study examines resistance to the most commonly used antibiotics, penicillin and its derivatives.  In particular, it examines a recent st...

Antibiotic Resistance in a Russian Prison
In this case study, students will have the opportunity to model the spread of tuberculosis and development of antibiotic resistance in a hypothetical prison environment. After reading a brief handout and viewing a short video, students play a simulatio...

Anyone Who Had a Heart
After undergoing a fertility procedure, a 37-year-old woman and her husband are expecting twins. The delivery goes smoothly, but it soon becomes apparent that, while the baby boy appears normal, the baby girl has a heart problem and is cyanotic. In thi...

Apple and Linguine
This flipped case study is suited for general education undergraduate level biology. Students prepare ahead of time for class by viewing a video created by the authors that reviews the basics of nutrition and digestion; in class, students then engage i...

Are We Too Clean?
This case study focuses on the relationship between the microbiome (the suite of species that live in or on the human body) and autoimmune and allergic diseases. At the center of the case is Amelia, a young woman living with Crohn's disease. As the cas...

Atkins or Fadkins?
When Mitchell reveals that he is going on a low-carb diet, Janine tries to talk him out of it, telling him that he’s too thin as it is and doesn’t need to loose any weight. Designed to accompany a nonmajors unit on human anatomy and physiol...

Baby Doe v. The Prenatal Clinic
This "clicker case" presents a fictionalized story about a couple ("John" and "Jane") whose new baby is born with Down syndrome; the parents are suing the prenatal clinic where Jane received her care, blaming the clinic for the baby’s condition. ...

Bad Blood
The ethics of human experimentation are explored in this case about the infamous syphilis studies performed at the Tuskegee Institute from the 1930s to the 1960s. Sponsored by the U.S. Public Health Service, 399 African American men with syphilis were ...

Bad Fish, Bad Bird
This "clicker case" is based on the General Biology edition of James Hewlett’s “Bad Fish” case in our collection. The case follows the story of biologist Dr. Westwood, who is accidentally poisoned, first while traveling in Asia and th...

Bad Fish: General Biology Edition
In this version, developed for a course in general biology, the protagonist of the case, Dr. Westwood, survives an accidental poisoning-not once, but twice. Students read about each incident, applying what they learn in each part of the case to the lat...

Banana Split: To Eat or Not to Eat
This case focuses on the banana, the most popular fruit in the world.  In the first part of the case, students are introduced to the history of "Banana Republics" and the biological constraints to banana production, including the devastating funga...

Between the Living and the Dead
As Jen pores over her introductory biology textbook, she falls asleep and enters a nightmarish world in which bacteria and viruses dwarf human beings. This engagingly written case explores the differences between viruses and bacteria while teaching abo...

Bioengineering the Pancreas
This case study applies problem-based learning to the field of biotechnology. Students assume the role of newly-hired bioengineers at a fictitious biotech company, Bio-Art. Students work individually to complete background research in the basic biology...

Blood Suckers! A Case Study on Evolution and Speciation
This directed case study in PowerPoint format focuses on the London Underground Mosquito, Culex molestus, and its potential relationship to the common mosquito, Culex pipiens, in order to explore the topics of evolution, reproductive ...

Bloodline: A Human Genetics Case
In this "clicker" case, based on a TV drama about a family secret that only knowledge of genetics can solve, students apply what they have read and heard about genetic diseases to determine familial relationships and predict the chance that a family me...

Bonding with the Tutor: How to Stick Together in Chemistry
This case study presents the story of "Nick," a student who has been assigned the task of writing a research paper describing the fundamentals of chemical bonds and how they relate to human life. When Nick experiences difficulty remembering information...

Brain Workouts
This directed case study follows two college roommates, Darrell and Anthony, who have just returned to school after winter vacation. They share that their ageing fathers are concerned about their declining faculties and are amused by their fathers' eff...

Bringing Back Baby Jason
This dilemma case, designed for use in an undergraduate genetics course, explores the basic genetic concepts underlying the cloning process as well as the ethical, medical, political, economic, and religious issues surrounding human cloning. While the ...

Bringing Home More than a Medal
This case study was inspired by the Zika virus outbreak that occurred around the time of the 2016 Olympic Games. Many athletes were fearful of attending because of the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in infants. This concern, however...

BSL-4: Authorized Personnel Only
This case study is based on the 2014 Ebola epidemic that spread to multiple highly populated countries in West Africa, making it the largest and most devastating outbreak in the history of the virus. The storyline, inspired by a compilation of factual ...

But I'm Too Young!
In this “clicker case,” students are introduced to Abby, a college student who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As they follow Abby’s plight, students learn about basic cellular and genetic mechanisms that are responsible for c...

Butterflies in the Stomach
Why is the North American population of monarch butterflies declining? In 1999, a study published in the journal Nature suggested that a variety of genetically modified corn was killing these iconic butterflies. While it was later shown that t...

CAMEL Question: Can Applied Math Extend Life?
This directed case study examines differences between the exponential and logistic growth models in biology and how they are applied to solve real life problems. The narrative follows a student returning to the United States as he tries to assess his p...

Campus Outbreak!
This PowerPoint-driven case study follows the progress of three undergraduate students as they attempt to model the rapid spread of an influenza outbreak to determine whether their local newspaper's claim that "40% of the campus has the flu" is accurat...

Can a Genetic Disease Be Cured?
In this discussion case, parents must decide whether or not to enroll their sons in an experimental treatment program designed to alleviate the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. The case explores the genetics and physiology of the disease as well as the ...

Cancer Cure or Conservation
This case is based on the controversy that surrounded harvesting of the Pacific yew from 1989 to 1997 to develop paclitaxel (Taxol), a revolutionary anti-cancer drug. The case was designed to expose students to basic conservation biology concepts by ex...

Caribou Conservation Conundrum
As a Government of Canada biologist, "Rachael Mercer" faces the task of advising the Environment Minister on whether a proposed wolf cull should be carried out to conserve threatened caribou populations in the Northern Alberta oilsands region. The Albe...

Cat vs. Bird: Another Look at Complexity in Conservation
This clicker case is an adaptation of a case by Loren Byrne that told the true story of a Texas man who killed a cat that was killing piping plovers (see "Complexity in Conservation: The Legal and Ethical Case of a Bird-Eating Cat and its Human Killer,...

Cauldron of Democracy
This case study explores the controversy surrounding Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and the relationship between wildlife management and pluralist democracy. In the late 1960s Yellowstone National Park suspended the policy of strictly managin...

Cell Phone Use and Cancer
In this case study, students analyze a scientific study, first by analyzing news articles reporting on the research and then by reading the original research article. In working through the case, students identify the basic elements of a scientific stu...

Chemical Eric
This case study is designed to teach introductory biology majors about the role of the pituitary in controlling hormones. It could easily be applied or modified to fit a variety of other courses, including a non-majors introductory biology course or an...

Chemical Eric - The Clicker Version
This “clicker case” is a modified version of a case originally published in the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science case collection in 2006, “Chemical Eric: Dealing with the Disintegration of Central Control,” by...

Chemical Eric Can't See
This autobiographical case study presents the story of Eric as he learns that he has a genetic eye disease, which progresses to the point that he becomes legally blind. The story is true and, in this respect, similar to another case by the same author ...

Chickens and Humans and Pigs, Oh My!
Influenza is a common topic in the popular press and a point of interest for many students.  This case study was written to promote interdisciplinary connections between upper division virology and immunology classes.  Students that participa...

Childbed Fever
This case describes the pioneering work of Ignaz Semmelweis and his efforts to remedy the problem of childbed fever in mid-19th century Europe.  Its purpose is to teach students about the scientific method by "dissecting" the various steps involve...

Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery
This interrupted case study focuses on the research of Dr. Beatrice Hahn, who investigates DNA sequences in chimpanzee droppings in order to explore the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Students first consider the types of data that c...

Classic Experiments in Molecular Biology
All introductory biology textbooks, and many sophomore-level genetics textbooks as well, describe several classic experiments in molecular biology. This interrupted case study takes students through two of these classic experiments, namely, those by Gr...

Cloning Man's Best Friend
The Cleaver family of television fame faces a dilemma—whether or not to clone their recently deceased dog Spot. Written for a high school introductory biology class, the case provides students with an opportunity to discuss animal cloning and its...

Closing the Gap
In this problem-based learning/role playing case, students apply their knowledge of the biology of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral therapy to developing foreign aid policy for the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. The case was created for a non-majors...

Coffee and Cigarettes
This analysis case explores second-hand smoke and its impact on the decision to institute a smoking ban in the outdoor seating area of a popular coffee bar.  In working through the case, students discuss the medical, ethical, legal, and societal i...

Conversations with Fireflies
This case explores the aggressive mimicry behavior of the femme fatale firefly - female fireflies in the genus Photuris that mimic the flash pattern of females in the genus Photinus in order to lure Photinus males to their de...

Cow of the Future
In this case developed for an introductory general microbiology course, students consider concepts of bacterial genetics as they act as consultants to a foundation interested in funding innovative products. Students take the role of advising "the baron...

Cracking the Case
In this directed case study, students shadow Dr. Lee in diagnosing two patients with osteoporosis. The students are given patient history and an initial panel of test results, which they discuss in small groups. After diagnosis, they are asked specific...

Crazy About Cryptids! An Ecological Hunt for Nessie and Other Legendary Creatures
Who wouldn't want to go in search of a creature like Bigfoot, Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster?  Using the science of ecology, students do exactly that in this case study that encompasses a variety of case study teaching formats.  Working in gr...

Cross-Dressing or Crossing-Over?
In this “clicker case,” students learn about sex determination, meiosis, and chromosomal “crossing over” through the story of Santhi Soundararajan, an athlete from Kathakkurichi, India, who was stripped of a medal at the 2006 As...

Cross-Dressing Salmon
This "clicker case" about female mimicry in spawning salmon was developed for an introductory-level, non-majors biology course to help address one of the most common misconceptions that students have about natural selection, namely, that only the "stro...

Danielle's Difficulty
The incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), including severe infection, has increased in both institutional settings and the general community. This case study presents the story of an elderly woman who spent time in a hospital and...

Dark Skin, Blond Hair
This interrupted case is based on a genome wide association study (GWAS) that identified the genetic variation causing some inhabitants of the Solomon Islands to have blond hair. The case illustrates the connection between genotype and phenotype, and a...

Darwin's Finches and Natural Selection
In this "clicker case," students learn about natural selection through the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant and colleagues on the finches of the Galapagos Islands. Students are presented with data in the form of graphs and asked to determine what i...

Decoding the Flu
This "clicker case" was designed to develop students' ability to read and interpret information stored in DNA. Making use of personal response systems ("clickers") along with a PowerPoint presentation, students follow the story of "Jason," a student in...

Dem Bones
In this case study, a forensic anthropologist must determine the age and sex as well as look for signs of trauma to a skeleton found in a shallow grave in a state park. Students simulate the actual procedures used in a forensics lab and learn to identi...

Diabetes and Insulin Signaling
Cellular signaling, otherwise known as signal transduction, is the mechanism by which cellular context and environmental situation are used to regulate or adjust cellular behavior. Multicellular organisms use cellular signaling to coordinate responses ...

Diagnosis of a Congenital Disorder
This progressive disclosure case study explores the medically-related issues of a female infant born with the congenital disorder Sirenomelia, more commonly known as "Mermaid Syndrome." The case starts with a high-risk mother participating in prenatal ...

Differential Diagnosis and Treatment of an Autoimmune Response
There are a number of medical disorders that mimic each other and accordingly prove problematic for diagnosis, including autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus), bacterial infections (syphilis), and arthropod borne ...

Disappearing Marine Iguanas
In this interrupted case study, students apply the scientific method to probe possible reasons behind declining marine iguana populations in the Galapagos Islands. Initially students are given rudimentary information and encouraged to generate wide-ran...

Disease Along the River: A Case Study and Cholera Outbreak Game
This case study centers on an active teaching game that simulates a cholera outbreak among five villages along a river, similar to the Haitian outbreak of 2010. By enacting the behaviors of fictional villagers, students learn how trade, travel, sanitat...

Do Corridors Have Value in Conservation?
This case study discusses conservation corridors as a means to reduce the problems of population size and isolation in a fragmented habitat. In an interrupted format, students learn what a corridor is, consider how nature preserves and corridors functi...

Does the Matrix Matter?
In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanations for how birds respond to forest fragmentation and landscape matrix. Using an interrupted format, the ca...

Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology
This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin "unusual mortality event" (UME) on the East Coast of the United States. The story follows a news reporter and four different scientists who are pre...

Don’t Lose Your Head!
This whimsical case introduces students to the topic of dorsal/ventral (DV) axis formation in amphibians. After the recent birth of a good-sized clutch of eggs, Heather Pipiens is pleased to see that most of her little larvae are doing fine, but alarme...

Dr. Collins and the Case of the Mysterious Infection
In this case study, Dr. Collins must diagnose and prescribe treatment for a young patient with a serious infection. Students receive pieces of the case in a progressive disclosure format and answer questions about bacterial infection, antibiotics, and ...

Driving Can Be Dangerous to Your Health
In this interrupted case study, students read about an older woman named Barbara who becomes ill after driving with her husband 19 hours from Florida to visit their son’s family. Barbara experiences an asthma attack and then more serious breathin...

Dust to Dust
Tom and his grandfather, a retired high school chemistry teacher, are talking about a National Geographic television documentary titled “Waking the Baby Mammoth.” As students read the dialogue that ensues, they learn how carbon, an essentia...

Earthquakes Damage Cells, Too
Cholera is a commonly explored disorder when teaching transmembrane transport. Expanding on this theme, this case study also introduces intracellular and extracellular signal transduction, the physiological basis of rehydration treatments, and provides...

Eating Himself to Death
This case study was developed for an introductory biology course with the goal of integrating content (specifically, structure/function, signaling pathways, and homeostasis) while reinforcing general critical thinking skills and the scientific method (...

Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - The Clicker Version
This is a “clicker” adaptation of another case in our collection, “Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario: Is There an Effect or Not?” (2001), written by the same author. It encourages students to examine how scientific results get prese...

Ecology of Individuals: Using Game Theory to Understand Animal Behavior
This case study is based on the game theory developed by John Maynard Smith where two behavioral strategies ("Hawks" and "Doves") compete over a contested resource. During this 50- to 75-minute case, students experience "hands-on"' the change in freque...

Ellen's Choice
This case encourages students to explore various aspects of alternative and complementary medicine that might be helpful in treating a woman who is suffering from scoliosis. The case was developed for use in a variety of settings, ranging from an intro...

Energy Up, Weight Down?
When Jill’s roommate Nancy starts using a nutritional product to improve her energy and lose weight, Jill goes searching for information about it. Her search leads her to nutrition labels, websites and, as she digs deeper, the results of scientif...

Equal Time for Intelligent Design?
Whether Intelligent Design should be taught in a science classroom is a serious problem. This case study tackles the issue head-on by using intimate debate, a pedagogical structure in which small student groups are subdivided into opposing student pair...

Escape from Planet Soma
In this case, students assume the role of a fictitious space explorer captured by aliens. To win their release, they must correctly explain the neurophysiology underlying some of the punishments used by the aliens to deter attempts at escape. The purpo...

Evolution and Plasticity in Guppies
This case study focuses on the relationship between evolution and plasticity using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach. Students view examples from the literature that illustrate the difference between nature and nurture, or the relative contributions o...

Evolution in Action
This case study is based on Dr. Richard Lenski’s ongoing studies of evolution in E. coli. Students are introduced to prokaryotic biology and to Lenski’s studies based on serial broth cultures of E. coli, which have been mo...

Eyes Without a Face
Although blind since childhood as the result of an accident, Lucy has never given up hope that one day she might see again. So, when her ophthalmologist tells her about a study being conducted at the University Medical Center that might help her regain...

Face the Fats
This clicker case introduces students to the biochemistry of lipids through the story of Pete, a college student who begins to consider his nutritional fat intake after watching a commercial for the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin. In this case, stud...

Fannie’s Fix
This case study is targeted to the middle school science student and written especially with female students in mind. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it combines content from physical science and areas of biology (bacteriology, pathology) to tell ...

Farmville Future?
Life has changed for the rural residents of Farmville County since the arrival of four concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); the air has an odor, wildlife has decreased, and illnesses are on the rise. One of the town's residents has become ac...

Fat Facts
It's Mother's Day and Dolly, a high school senior, is making a Mediterranean salad for her mom, who is a college chemistry major and who likes to take every opportunity to teach Dolly what she has learned in school. Today is no exception, as she guides...

Fecal Coliforms in Antarctica
In this interrupted case study, students explore the environmental consequences of Antarctic research as they design experiments to assess the impact of disposing untreated sewage from a research station into the ocean. Students review experimental met...

Feeling Detoxified
This case study uses the example of ionic foot baths to examine how placebo treatments can affect our health and wellness. Inspired by a student’s real visit to a spa, the story begins with a description of the experience of an ionic foot bath, a...

Fishing for Answers in the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone
This “clicker case” addresses the eutrophication of aquatic systems caused by human activities. "Susan" is a biology student working at a seafood restaurant on the Gulf of Mexico. She discovers that the restaurant doesn't serve locally caug...

FOXP2 and Speech
FOXP2 was first identified as a human language gene when a mutated version of the gene was found to cause speech problems in the KE family in London. In 2009, a research team transferred the cloned FOXP2 gene into mice and demonstrated that the FOXP2 t...

From Cow Juice to a Billion Dollar Drug, With Some Breakthroughs in Between
Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. Despite the successful management of diabetes with purified animal insulin, potentially severe side effects were abundant, and alternative ways to produ...

From Gummy Bears to Celery Stalks: Diffusion and Osmosis
This is an interrupted case study that intersperses information about diffusion and osmosis with content review and knowledge application questions, as well as a simple experiment that can be conducted without the use of a laboratory. This case study i...

From Prairies to Corn Fields for Fuel
With increasing U.S. government support for biofuel production in the late 2000s came increased pressure to convert more land to cornfields for ethanol. To make way for more corn, millions of acres of prairie grassland were plowed under, destroying an ...

From Twiggy to Tubby
This case study explores the topics of diffusion, osmosis, membrane transport, and the physiological significance of glucose and insulin in the human body. The story begins with a high school athlete, Timmy, who is incredibly efficient at metabolizing ...

Gender: In the Genes or in the Jeans?
How are males and females different? Most people have a sex that is consistent on all levels: genetic, gonadal, internal genitals, external genitals. But sometimes there are discrepancies. This case explores the biology of human sexual differentiation ...

Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer
In this dilemma case, the central character, Kathy, must decide whether or not to be tested for known mutations in the breast cancer genes. Students assume the roles of members of Kathy’s book club and, using a jigsaw technique, explore the advan...

Genetics and a Transcontinental Romance
Annika is a PhD student from Sweden who spends two years in the Solomon Islands to complete her fieldwork. During her stay in the South Pacific she experiences a few surprises related to the hair color not only of the locals, but also of her own baby g...

Giving Birth to Someone Else's Children?
Most students have heard about situations in which the paternity of a child is questioned, but maternity? This case was designed for introductory biology students and asks them to develop hypotheses to explain how a mother cannot be geneticall...

Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes
This “clicker case” begins by assessing students’ impressions of global climate change and the role that human activities play in recent global warming trends. Students assume the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator. They nee...

Global Climate Change: Impact and Remediation
This “clicker case” is a continuation of another case in our collection, “Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” in which students assumed the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator so that they could advise the sena...

Global Climate Change: What Does it Look Like?
In this interrupted case study, Ph.D.-paleoclimatologist-turned-TV-meteorologist Sara Fahrenheit finds herself projected into a future climate that reminds her of the Early Eocene: it's hot, it's humid, and seems tropical. The story is a vehicle for te...

Glowing Plants on Kickstarter
This case study is centered on a real scenario from 2013 in which the Kickstarter fundraising platform included a fundraising proposal from a group wanting to use synthetic biology to make glowing plants. The proposal raised controversy because the Glo...

Got Blood?
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the major vector for transmission of numerous viral diseases, including yellow fever, dengue, and now, Zika. Interestingly, different subspecies of A. aegypti are known to exist in close proximity but wit...

Grandma's TUM-my Trouble
An elderly woman living independently with some help from her family is brought to the local emergency room because she is confused and vomiting. While her son suspects a stroke, a quick battery of laboratory tests indicates that her current probl...

Grazing in Vernal Pools
This case study in restoration ecology utilizes two peer reviewed articles that ask a similar question about the effects of grazing in temporary wetlands, yet the articles have different conclusions about these effects.  Students are challenged to...

Helicobacter pylori and the Bacterial Theory of Ulcers
This case is an account of the events that led Drs. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall to the bacterial theory of ulcers. The two physicians refused to accept the standard explanations for what they had observed and instead developed an alternative hypoth...

Hemophilia
This case deals with the genetics of the hemophilic condition that afflicted the royal families of Europe.  Students trace the pedigrees of the descendants of Queen Victoria and the passage of the recessive X-linked trait from ancestor to ancestor...

Hidden in Plain Sight
This case study tells the story of John and Mary, two first-year college students learning about biodiversity while on a trip to Costa Rica where they become interested in studying butterflies (Astraptes fulgerator). Designed for use in a flip...

Hidden in Plain Sight
As nonliving entities, viruses face specific challenges when replicating in a host.  Avoiding the host immune system is something that every virus aims for in order to successfully reproduce itself and infect another host.  Many viruses repli...

Holes in the Matter
This case centers on a fictional group of young adults who studied abroad together in Scotland as college students. A number of them develop disease symptoms and die a few years after the trip. The cause of death is determined to be a prion disease. Ap...

Hot and Bothered
This interrupted case study is a story about Carrie and her infant daughter Hayden who share similar symptoms: weight loss, metabolic abnormalities, and endocrine glands that just won't quit - as well as autoimmune complications. Students will eventual...

How a Cancer Trial Ended in Betrayal
In this case study, students learn about the complexities and issues associated with clinical trials. After reading a newspaper story about a fraudulently conducted clinical trial involving a treatment for skin cancer, students simulate their own small...

How Do Scallops Swim?
Scallops are bivalve mollusks that live on the seabed. This way of life makes them susceptible to predation and so they have evolved the ability to escape by swimming. This interrupted case study is based on a few observations and simple experiments wh...

How Many More Thymes? A Case of Phytochemical Defense
This clicker case addresses several concepts related to the evolutionary ecology of herbivore defenses. A survey of several different studies that investigated chemical defenses in Thymus vulgaris (thyme) gives students the opportunity to deve...

Hunting the Black Rhino
This case study was developed to teach students the importance of understanding the behavior of wildlife, explore the difficulty in making management decisions when the public is invested in a species, and to help students develop critical thinking and...

Hunting the Ebola Reservoir Host
This one-hour introduction to the study of infectious diseases uses recent research on the Ebola reservoir host to motivate students to consider the characteristics of a viral host species and how it can be identified. Presented in the form of an inter...

I Can Quit Anytime I Want
This “clicker case” explores the biological basis for the temporary euphoria that accompanies drug use as well as certain aspects of the biological basis of drug dependency. The case is called a clicker case because it is designed for use w...

I Don't Need a Flu Shot!
In this “clicker case,” Ryan, a college student, receives an email from the campus health education office urging students to get a flu shot. Ryan thinks it is too late since he just had the stomach flu, and besides, even if he did catch it...

I Heart Running: A Case Study on Tachycardia in Sam the Runner
"I Heart Running" is a case study in which students diagnose the cause of exercise-induced tachycardia in an otherwise healthy, 27-year-old female. The patient, Sam, is a long-distance runner and realizes that her exercising heart rate reaches over 200...

I Scream for Ice Cream
Lactose intolerance, caused by a lack of persistent lactase enzyme expression, is a trait commonly observed in adult humans, with varying geographic prevalence depending on dietary habits in different cultures. This case study follows a diverse group o...

Identical Twins, Identical Fates?
This case tells the story of Elise, a college freshman whose identical twin sister has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Elise is concerned about her own risk for developing this disease. Through her research and interactions with a physician...

I'm Looking Over a White-Striped Clover
This case is an exploration of the process of natural selection using white clover (Trifolium repens) as an example. In general, two forms of white clover can be found around the world in various habitats. One type is able to produce cyanide i...

Impacts of Climate Change on Pinyon Pine Cone Production
In this interrupted case study, students explore how changing climate may affect cone production in pinyon pine (Pinus edulis). Students begin by learning about mast seeding, a common reproductive strategy among many perennial plant species, a...

Improving on Nature?
In 1958, black bass were introduced into Lake Atitlan in the highlands of western Guatemala as a way to attract tourism and boost the local economy, but unforeseen complications resulted in an ecological disaster. Developed for an introductory course i...

In Sickness and in Health
In this interrupted case study, Greg and Olga, a young couple planning a family, have decided to see a genetic counselor because of a family history of genetic disease. Students construct a pedigree from the information presented in the case; then, on ...

Is Iron Fertilization Good for the Sea?
This case study describes experiments to seed the ocean with iron to encourage algae growth. It explores how human activities contribute to greenhouse effects and global warming, proposals to potentially counteract these effects and make the ocean more...

Is That Pill You're Taking Safe?
This dilemma cased is based on the actual development, FDA approval, and market withdrawal of dexfenfluramine, a drug used in the late 1990s in combination with phentermine for weight loss. The case is set up as a mock trial, with students taking the r...

It Takes a Lot of Nerve
In this two-part case study on the nervous system, students learn about neural pathways. The case scenarios are drawn from real life and require students to explain the physiological mechanisms at work. The first scenario is designed for freshmen level...

It’s a Crocodile! No, a Fish! No, a Dolphin!
It is not uncommon to hear creationists argue that evolution is not science because no one saw it happen, or for students to wonder how we can know anything about the physiology or behavior of organisms that went extinct hundreds of millions of years a...

It’s All Greek to Me: Genetics Edition
Stephania and Nikolaus Stamos are concerned about their baby daughter. They take her to her pediatrician, who immediately notices that the once bright and active child is small for her age, pale, lethargic, and has a swollen abdomen. Students examine t...

It's All Greek to Me: Physiology Edition
Stephania and Nikolaus Stamos are concerned about their baby daughter. They take her to her pediatrician, who immediately notices that the once bright and active child is small for her age, pale, lethargic, and has a swollen abdomen. Students exam...

It's Just Stress, Right?
Ellie is a struggling college student on the brink of failing her physiology course; not surprisingly, she exhibits many classic signs of stress. However, a visit to the health clinic reveals that she may be suffering from more than just stress. In thi...

It's Like Pulling Teeth
In this interrupted case study, a middle-aged man is having his wisdom teeth surgically removed. He decides to have a general anesthetic, but is unaware of the reaction he will have to halothane. His skeletal muscles go rigid and his body temperature r...

I've Fallen Over and I Can't Get Up
Greg Myron is playing the last football game of his career as the high school’s star running back. As the clock counts down the final seconds, Greg rushes 70 yards down field until he is tackled out of bounds. When the kicking team comes out to t...

Jim and the Forgotten Embryos
The goal of this case study is to expose students to the basics of embryonic stem cells, their therapeutic uses, and the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells through the story of a college student, Jim Allison, who becomes paralyzed after a car...

Joel E. Greengiant Learns About Peas
This case study follows purveyors of peas, Joel E. and Jolene Greengiant, as they learn about the origin, biochemistry, genetics and eventual artificial selection of sweet (wrinkled) peas, all in the context of evolutionary biology. This integrative ap...

Josie
In this interdisciplinary case, students meet Josie, the main character, who suffers from a variety of symptoms. Students must grapple with the conflicting data presented, which ultimately leads them to a diagnosis of either porphyria or schizophrenia....

Just a Spider Bite?
This case relates the story of two fictional college students, Kristen and Brent, who discover that they are infected with Staphylococcus aureus. Brent recovers after using an antibiotic, but Kristen does not. It is later confirmed through tes...

Kate-tastrophy
In this interrupted case, students examine the concept of unconsciousness and develop an understanding of how clinicians diagnose death. Developed for a freshman course in human biology, the case focuses on brain death, but raises related issues, inclu...

Katrina's Troubled Waters
This case study explores some of the health issues brought to light during the flooding in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. The case encourages students to think about a variety of problems that can occur when humans are exposed to unsanitary f...

Keeping up with the Joneses
This interrupted case study in cardiovascular physiology focuses on Suzie, a determined young woman who is training hard for the upcoming figure skating season. But family dynamics combined with high aspirations of competing in the Olympic Games have n...

Kill the Aliens: Controlling Leafy Spurge
The majority of people in the world interact with nature in an urban setting. Management issues in urban parks tend to be more challenging than in “natural” parks for a variety of reasons, including heavy use, proximity to housing, local ad...

Killing Chloroplasts
This case study takes place at a fictional biotechnology company developing herbicides against invasive plant species. The case study focuses on five herbicides with different effects on photosynthesis. Students play the role of lab interns and explore...

King Tut's Family Secrets
This "clicker case" is based on several articles published in 2010 that determined the genealogy of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun based on microsatellite DNA analysis. The case begins with a description of the seven royal mummies found in Va...

Knot Your Typical Weed
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is an invasive plant that can be very hard to eliminate. This PowerPoint-driven case study briefly describes this plant and asks students to identify possible solutions for its control when a homeowner dis...

Lady Tasting Coffee
In the 1920s, biologist and statistician Ronald Fisher met a woman who claimed she could taste whether a cup of tea was prepared by adding milk before or after the tea. Fisher’s essay about the tea party may be one of the first cases published to...

Let's Get This Course Started
The first day of class is often a reading of the syllabus, even when active learning approaches are used throughout the rest of the term. This interrupted case uses the first day to model the expectations of a course that uses case method approaches. S...

Lewis and Clark Reloaded
Frank and Joe are 24-year-old fraternal twins who share similar interests, including cycling. The brothers decide to attempt their first long-distance bicycling trip, retracing the journey of early American explorers Lewis and Clark to the Northwest.&n...

Life on Mars
This case explores the question of whether there was ever life on Mars and in doing so explores how we define life. The backdrop for the case is the 1996 revelation by NASA of evidence of life on Mars. Through a fictionalized account of the events, the...

Life, The Final Frontier
Designed for high school and college-level introductory biology courses, the goal of this "clicker case" is to get students to think about what it means for something to be alive by defining the characteristics of living organisms and applying these to...

Little Girl Lost: A Case Study on Defective Cellular Organelles
This case study introduces students to the structure and function of cellular organelles and seeks to show their importance by discussing diseases and disorders that can result when an organelle does not function as it should. The storyline follows a f...

Little Mito
This case presents a fanciful story about the origin of the eukaryotic cell, a major milestone in the evolution of life. The characters of the story are Mito, Chlora, Flag, ER, Nuc, Golgi, Ves, and Ly, all members of an extended cellular family. Writte...

Living on the Edge
This case study describes the daily osmotic struggle for survival faced by hummingbirds. The narrative is written from the viewpoint of a human observer who sees an Anna's hummingbird feeding on flowers outside of her window.  She notices that the...

Living the Sweet Life
In this directed case study, students assist Dr. Gupta in his endocrinology clinic in diagnosing three patients having problems with blood glucose regulation. In Part I, students are given patient backgrounds and results from laboratory tests generated...

Living With Her Genes
When a 30-year-old genetic counselor learns that her 38-year-old sister has developed early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (EOFAD), a dominantly inherited disorder that led to their father's death at age 42, she struggles with whether to unde...

Lost in the Desert!
Students learn about the interconnectedness of the body, with a particular focus on the skin as one of the most important homeostatic organ systems, in this case study in which the protagonist sets out on a three-hour drive across the Arizona desert to...

Lost in the Desert! Hebrew Translation
In this directed case study, translated from the original English into Hebrew, students read about a man who sets out on a three-hour drive across the Arizona desert to meet his fiancee in California but never shows up at his final destination.  S...

Lost? Ask a Turtle
This case study examines the events surrounding the hatching and migration of loggerhead sea turtles, specifically what mechanisms they use to head towards the ocean (once hatched) and where and how they migrate once in the ocean.  The story is wr...

Love Potion #10
In this case study, students are asked to consider whether there is evidence to adequately support a series of scientific claims made in an advertisement for pheromones. The case teaches students about the scientific method and the process of science. ...

Magic Bullets
This clicker case was designed to teach students about basic enzyme structure, mechanisms of enzyme inhibition, and mechanisms of drug resistance. The story follows Oliver Casey, a patient afflicted with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). CML is cause...

Make a Life to Save a Life
In this “clicker case,” students learn about meiosis through the real-life story of a couple who used pre-implantation genetic screening to select an embryo that was a genetic match for an older sibling with leukemia, and thus able to provi...

Making It Fit: Using Excel to Analyze Biological Systems
In this case, students read about a biologist who needs to determine how to analyze age-at-length data, a common situation in fisheries biology. The fictional Dr. Latimer is tasked with fitting non-linear models to the data, and the case develops as he...

Mathematics in Conservation
This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Florida panther. An endangered population is unlikely to survive simply due to its small population size. B...

MDR Tuberculosis
In this case study on multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, students consider ways in which to preserve health as a human right without subjecting already marginalized communities susceptible to the disease to further discrimination. Students learn ...

Mendel Dreams
In this PowerPoint-based clicker case, developed for use in either a general biology or general genetics class, students are introduced to the life and work of Gregor Mendel.  The initial slides set up the story as we see Mendel, who is ill, remin...

Michael's Story
This interdisciplinary case study introduces us to the Greens, a family with a recently diagnosed autistic child. Autism is one of several disorders grouped within the acronym ASD, or autism spectrum disorders. Autistic children have problems with comm...

Microbial Pie, or What Did You Feed the Neighbors?
The Emergency Room seems busier than usual, and the cases coming in are all too similar.  Everyone seems to be suffering from the same symptoms - abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.  Once the hospital staff identify the bacteria ca...

Mildred Using Plants
The format for this case is unusual.  The PowerPoint of the "case" provides an in-class framework for working through all of the activities associated with the case.  These activities are explained in the teaching notes.  The teaching no...

Mini Cases in Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain
Designed for an upper-level psychology class titled Brain & Behavior, this series of mini-cases can be used in any undergraduate course that covers the major classes of commonly abused legal and illicit psychoactive drugs from a biological...

Mini Cases on Choosing Appropriate Statistical Tests for Ecological Data
This set of mini cases on the ecology of eastern cottontail rabbits is designed to give students practical experience using statistics in a scientific context. Given a dataset and experimental design, groups of students are asked to play the part of a ...

Mom Always Liked You Best
This interrupted case study is based on a journal article on the parenting behavior of American coots. Working through the case, students develop hypotheses and design experiments to test their hypotheses as they are given pieces of the case in an inte...

Monday on the Metabolic Ward
This case is a variation of a longer case in our collection titled "Murder or Medical Mishap? Death on the Metabolic Ward," which has a "murder-mystery" aspect to it.  In both versions of the case, students assume the role of pre-med students part...

More Than Just a Cough: Exploring the Role of the Cytoskeleton in Fertility
This interrupted case study explores the role of cytoskeletal structures on human health, specifically on respiratory function, sperm motility, and female fertility. It follows the story of a couple struggling to conceive a child and the doctors workin...

More Than Meets the Eye
The classic example of a human trait that behaves in a clear Mendelian fashion is human eye color. The gene that controls it exists in two forms: a dominant brown allele and a recessive blue allele. But the genetics of eye color is more complex than ty...

Mother's Milk Cures Cancer?
This case study on the immune system, cell cycle regulation, and cancer biology explores the role that serendipity plays in new discoveries in science, how scientific research is funded, and the personal and professional implications of unexpectedly fi...

mRNA Processing
This clicker case study follows a dialogue between two college students, Lucy and Dan, as they discover how alternative splicing of mRNA molecules can allow a single gene to code for multiple proteins. Dan is participating in a clinical trial for a dru...

Murder by HIV? Grades 5-8 Edition
This case study gives students an opportunity to draw a conclusion about an actual crime that was prosecuted in Louisiana. A physician was accused of intentionally infecting his ex-girlfriend with HIV-tainted blood drawn from a patient in his practice....

Murder by HIV? Grades 9-12 Edition
This case study gives students an opportunity to draw a conclusion about an actual crime that was prosecuted in Louisiana. A physician was accused of intentionally infecting his ex-girlfriend with HIV-tainted blood drawn from a patient in his practice....

Murder by HIV? Undergraduate Edition
This case study gives students an opportunity to draw a conclusion about an actual crime that was prosecuted in Louisiana. A physician was accused of intentionally infecting his ex-girlfriend with HIV-tainted blood drawn from a patient in his practice....

Murder or Medical Mishap?
In this "clicker case," students assume the role of pre-med students participating in a summer internship. As interns, they diagnose several different genetic deficiencies of glycolytic pathway enzymes based on the biochemical activity of blood samples...

Muscleman
This case is designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of negative feedback regulation. Basic principles of negative feedback systems are illustrated by focusing on the effects of anabolic steroids on the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicula...

Mutualism
This case explores two-species interactions, especially mutualism, and presents students with a problem, namely, the inconsistent treatment of the concept of mutualism and symbiosis in many textbooks. It begins with a question that students will probab...

My Brother's Keeper
In this interrupted case study, students work in teams to interpret behavioral data with respect to evolutionary biology.  Specifically, the case examines the behavior of alarm calling in a certain type of squirrel, Belding's ground squirrel, whic...

My Dog is Broken!
Cell signaling is one of the more difficult concepts for students to understand in their study of cell biology. To help students better understand the process of cell signaling, from reception to cellular response, a fairly simple signal pathway is use...

Mystery in Alaska
This interrupted case study highlights the importance of energy considerations within food chains by examining the population decline of Steller sea lions along the western Alaskan coast. A ban on commercial fishing of pollock in the 1970s caused a shi...

Nanobacteria
This case study was developed for a first-semester foundations course for biology majors. It is based on two conflicting reports in the scientific literature on the status of nanobacteria as living organisms in order to explore basic concepts related t...

Nature or Nurture
This case explores the question of whether gender identity is determined strictly by genetics (nature) or social variables (nurture).  It is based on a true story about a man who was raised as a girl and later rejected the female gender identity.&...

Newsflash! Transport Proteins on Strike!
This role-play case study teaches students about plasma membrane transport and the functions of transport proteins in the phospholipid bilayer. Students act out the parts of molecules and structures in a fantastical cellular world where the unionized t...

Niños Desaparecidos: A Case Study about Genetics and Human Rights
This case study is based on the identification of 50 children who were displaced during Argentina’s Dirty War of the 1970s, subjected to DNA and protein analysis, and subsequently reunited with their biological families. The case demonstrates the...

No Bats in the Belfry
This interrupted case study investigates the geographic origin of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). WNS is a devastating fungal disease caused by the fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly know...

Not an Old Person's Disease
The overall goal of this case is to introduce students to the genetic basis of cancer while teaching them about melanoma. The fictional protagonist of the case is 20-year-old Judy. Fair-haired and fair-skinned, Judy covets the kind of suntan that her f...

Not Exactly...
This case study follows a young couple that is consulting with a genetic counselor about their plans to have a child. Because of their family history with cystic fibrosis, they are concerned about their chances of having a child with this genetic disea...

Not Just Another Day at the Beach
Students read about a case of melanoma that occurred over 10 years ago and then discuss issues faced by cancer patients and their families in making difficult medical decisions. Because the case presented is 10 years old, changes since then in the way ...

Not Necessarily on Purpose
In this “clicker case,” students learn about evolution, speciation, and natural selection as well as interpret phylogenies as they apply to the Canidae family. The case is based on the idea that the domestication of the dog was not likely a...

Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style
This “clicker case” introduces students to the basics of nutrient cycling using a recent example of the expansion of a refinery on Lake Michigan. The story is told through a series of news clips from Chicago’s National Public Radio af...

One Headache After Another: Biochemistry Edition
Topamax®, developed to treat epilepsy, is also used as a preventative for migraine. In this case study, students read about a woman experiencing a side-effect of Topamax and from there move to a review of acid-base balance in the human body. The ca...

One Headache After Another: Physiology Edition
Topamax®, developed to treat epilepsy, is also used as a preventative for migraine. In this case study, students read about a woman experiencing a side-effect of Topamax and from there move to a review of acid-base balance in the human body. The ca...

One Tablet a Day May Keep Cancer Away
This dilemma/decision case study is intended to demonstrate how knowledge of signal transduction pathways can be applied to the pharmaceutical industry and within a medical setting. The case scenario revolves around a physician scientist's analysis of ...

Osmosis is Serious Business!
This directed case study involves two “stories,” each one concerned with some aspect of osmosis in living cells. Part I is centered around the effects of a hypertonic environment on plant cells, while Part II focuses on the effects of a hyp...

Osmosis is Serious Business! Hebrew Translation
This directed case study, translated from the original English into Hebrew, involves two “stories,” each concerned with some aspect of osmosis in living cells. Part I is centered around the effects of a hypertonic environment on plant cells...

Osteoporosis
This directed case study focuses on the physiology of bone homeostasis and methods of prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. One of the overall purposes of the case is to show students that osteoporosis is not simply a disease that afflicts elderly ...

Patient Zero
Emerging diseases and potential pandemics make the news nearly every year. Students (and everyone else) may wonder where new infectious diseases come from, how scientists assess the risk of a pandemic, and how we might go about preventing one. This cas...

PCBs in the Last Frontier
This interrupted case study is based on current research involving the global transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Students are asked to propose several hypotheses and experiments in an attempt to determine how PCBs are transferred globally. ...

Pharmacogenetics: How Genetic Information Is Used to Treat Disease
In this clicker case, two teenagers are diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the bone marrow where there is an abnormal overproduction of lymphocyte precursors. The girls' reactions to treatment are very different, however, du...

Pharmacogenetics: Using Genetics to Treat Disease
This case study investigates the applications of genetics to medicine by exploring one of the first examples of a pharmacogenetic test to enter mainstream clinical practice. Pharmacogenetics examines how genetic variations in an individual correlate wi...

PKU Carriers
In this interrupted case study, students read about a college student with phenylketonuria (PKU).  Students learn how diet affects a person with PKU and how PKU is inherited. The case is designed to introduce introductory biology students to the H...

Poison Ivy
A longstanding belief that has it roots in Native American folklore is that the crushed leaves of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) relieve the skin's allergic reaction to the toxin of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). This case was d...

Poor Devils
Cancer is usually thought to be a disease that affects individuals. But could cancer evolve to become infectious? This case follows the research on a form of transmissible cancer that is decimating the Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest carnivo...

Prairie Garden of Troubles
This "clicker case" was developed for a general biology course for non-majors. It focuses on prairie habitat ecology and restoration. Jim, a young ecologist, has created a reconstructed prairie in his backyard. His neighbors don't like it and they have...

Prayer Study
In this case, students read a news article about a study of the effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac patients published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. After reading the case and discussing the questions in small groups, students ev...

Putting the Pieces Together: The Discovery of DNA Structure and Replication
This case study provides an overview of the seminal experimental work that led to the discovery of DNA structure and the confirmation of the semi-conservative model of DNA replication. By guiding students through a chronological series of historic expe...

Reproductive Isolation in Columbines
This clicker case uses plant-pollinator interactions in columbines as a biological scenario to teach students about evolution, reproductive isolation, and angiosperm reproduction. The case is based on an approach to evolution education called tree-thin...

Resistance is Futile - Or Is It?
While the majority of people are prone to HIV infection, some individuals remain uninfected despite repeated exposure. This case study is based on the landmark paper by Paxton et al. (1996) that uncovered some of the mechanisms of protection against HI...

Resistance Is Futile, Or is It? The Clicker Version
This clicker case is an adaptation of a case by Annie Prud'homme-Généreux that was originally published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science titled "Resistance Is Futile ... or Is It? The Immunity System and HIV Infec...

Response to Plant Invasion
This interrupted case study provides students with an opportunity to compare and contrast methods for controlling spotted knapweed, an invasive species in the United States that has raised considerable concern in western pastures and rangeland. Student...

Resurrection
This case study examines the molecular methods that were used to reverse engineer the 1918 influenza virus strain in order to try and solve the mystery of why it was so deadly. The story starts in the 1950s with the unsuccessful attempts to culture the...

Retro Goes Modern
This case study considers the evolution of HIV from SIV, as well as the evolution of HIV within humans by mutation rate. It also discusses the immune evasion proteins NEF and VPU, and how anti-retroviral drugs act to stall viral replication. Finally, t...

Return of the Whoop!
This interrupted case study outlines the history of pertussis or whooping cough, a disease that in the early 1900s claimed the lives of more people than diphtheria, scarlet fever, and measles combined. Whooping cough continued to afflict and kill a lar...

Rice ’n Beans or Ricin Beans?
Taylor must write a report about a natural toxin while she is home from college on break. After a family dinner conversation about the latest attempt to poison a politician via a letter, Taylor decides to explore how ricin acts as a poison. Students wo...

Rings as Keys to the Past
This flipped case study was written to provide foundational understanding of woody stem (tree) anatomy and to illustrate how scientific support is used to determine the age of objects made of wood, which in turn may affect an object's value. The narrat...

Rough Games and the Brain
In this "clicker case study," students learn about the chemical nature of protein molecules-in particular, how the constituent parts of proteins (amino acids) contribute to protein three-dimensional structure and folding. Several important human diseas...

Running Off Track
This interrupted case study follows the course of Cara, a high school athlete training for the state championships in cross country. She suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome and her prescribed medication (spironolactone) greatly diminishes the acti...

Salamander Superpowers
This case, developed for a course in human biology, provides students with a context for discussing stem cells and cloning by exploring regeneration in salamanders and the ethical as well as scientific and health-related issues of applying what scienti...

Salem's Secrets
This case study examines the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 1600s. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to analyze and critique data and help them understand the scientific method. Originally d...

Saving Superman
Using a combination of directed case method and role-playing in which students learn about their roles using the jigsaw technique, this case study teaches about the main concepts of stem cell research and therapy and the political and ethical issues su...

Saving Superman: Ethics and Stem Cell Research
This case explores the political and ethical issues associated with stem cell research. Students read the case describing Christopher Reeve’s accident and injuries and his advocacy for stem cell research along with background readings on stem cel...

Search for the Missing Sea Otters
Using a progressive disclosure format, this case study teaches students how to apply ecological principles to a real-life ecological problem, namely, the decline in sea otter populations in Alaska. Students interpret data from graphs and tables and pra...

Selecting the Perfect Baby
This dilemma case is based on the true story of Jack and Lisa Nash, whose daughter Molly was born with a rare genetic disorder, Fanconi anemia. By having another child with specific genetic markers, the Nashes hoped to cure Molly using stem cells from ...

Selection and the Blond Beach Mouse
This "clicker" case study explores ultimate and proximate explanations for cryptic coloration in animals through the work of Dr. Hopi Hoekstra of Harvard University, who studies Gulf and Atlantic Coast beach populations of oldfield deer mice that have ...

Sex and Vaccination
This case study focuses on the controversy surrounding the decision by Texas Governor Rick Perry to mandate the compulsory vaccination of girls in the Texas public school system against the human papillomavirus (HPV) prior to entering the sixth grade. ...

Should Bill Buy Sammy?
In this case, students are shown the relevance of chemistry in daily decision-making by taking a look at the popular dietary supplement, s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), widely used in Europe for depression, arthritis, and liver disease and now available i...

Should Dinosaurs Be Cloned from Ancient DNA?
Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, as a novel and then a blockbuster movie, reawakened the public's fascination with dinosaurs. Although dinosaurs have always been popular, Spielberg's sophisticated cinema computer graphics thrilled human imagi...

Sick on a South American Sugarcane Plantation
This case study familiarizes readers with a disease that affects millions of people in Central and South America while illustrating a relatively uncommon route of transmission.  The narrative is based on reports of oral transmission of Trypano...

Sickle Cell Anemia
In this case study on sickle cell anemia, students are introduced to some of the key researchers responsible for determining the molecular basis of the disease and learn about the functioning of erythrocytes as well as the notion that changes in the en...

Skinny Genes?
This case study introduces Megi, an active teenager who has recovered from anorexia nervosa.  The method of progressive disclosure is used to take students back in time as Megi recalls the physical and psychological aspects of her illness and t...

SNPs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, and That's What People Are Made Of
In this case on genome privacy, students work together to research one of six assigned lobbying groups’ views in this area and then present their groups’ positions before a mock meeting of a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee as the...

Sometimes It Is All in the Genes
Nancy, five months pregnant, agrees to a routine genetic test that indicates she carries the mutation for the fatal disease, cystic fibrosis. She convinces her husband to get tested and discovers that he too is a carrier. Knowing that there is a 25 per...

Stem Cells: Promises to Keep? Clicker Case Version
This clicker case is based upon the case "Stem Cells: Promises to Keep" written by Lauren E. Yaich and published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. The case is formatted as a PowerPoint presentation (1.5 MB) punctuated by quest...

Super Bug
Sam, a pre-med college student, routinely gets dialysis and develops a urinary tract infection. The infection is from a bacterium that the news media is calling a "superbug" from India. Sam does some internet searches to find out more information about...

Sweet Beets: Making Sugar Out of Thin Air
This directed case study introduces students to photosynthesis and illustrates how biology plays a vital role in the carbon cycle and the conversion of energy. Set in North Dakota along the Red River of the North, the case uses the sugar beet (Beta...

Sweet Indigestion
These days it seems like everyone is counting carbs. About 24 million Americans report they have cut carbohydrates from their diet, and 44 million more say they may try a low-carb diet in the next two years. But what do people really know about carbohy...

Sweet Truth
This case reviews concepts of monosaccharide, disaccharide, and polysaccharide and contrasts the structures of different pairs of carbohydrates as well as the structure of sorbitol, a sugar substitute. It also depicts stereo chemistry concepts such as ...

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning
In this “clicker case,” students read about a college student who becomes sick. As they set out to identify the cause of the illness, students learn about the differences between viruses, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes in order to decide which...

The Art of a Deal
This case is a classroom simulation of the types of negotiations that went into the Kyoto Protocol agreement on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions. It was developed for an environmental science course for first-year college students with minimal ...

The Big Bad Wolf or Symbol of the American Wilderness?
Students enrolled in natural resource programs typically have classroom experience in science-based curricula with little exposure as to how to apply that science to real-life issues. This case study was designed to introduce students to understanding ...

The Buzz about Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the widespread loss of honeybees, has devastating repercussions for the environment, industry, and the economy. This case study explores the possible causes, effects, and treatments for CCD by focusing on a family of hon...

The Case of Baby Joe
This interrupted case study follows the declining health of an infant who suffers from recurrent infections and finally is diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). The case was developed for use in an undergraduate upper-level immunology...

The Case of Desiree's Baby
This case is based on Kate Chopin’s short story “Desiree’s Baby,” a tragic tale of race and gender in antebellum Louisiana first published in 1893. Students read the story and then answer a series of questions about the genetics...

The Case of Eric, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and Stem Cell Research
Thirty-one-year-old Eric has begun to show signs of the debilitating and fatal neuromuscular disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Students follow Eric as he is examined by his physician and then a specialist...

The Case of the Dividing Cell
The Honorable Judge Cellular is presiding over the case of The State vs.Egg Cell Number 6624223. As the prosecuting attorney calls each witness to the stand and the courtroom drama unfolds, students learn about the stages of mitosis and meiosi...

The Case of the Druid Dracula
This case is based on a lurid crime featured on the BBC program Crimewatch in December 2001 that was solved thanks to forensic DNA analysis. Students learn how the structure of DNA and the mechanism used by cells to duplicate DNA were critical...

The Case of the Druid Dracula: Clicker Case Version
This “clicker case” is a modified version of another case in our collection by the same name. It uses a PowerPoint presentation (~3MB) to present the case, which is punctuated by multiple-choice questions that students answer in class using...

The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Based on the disputed rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in April 2005, this interrupted case study tells the story of a fictional character, "Brad Murky," a student and research assistant who must decide whether the current evidence is suffici...

The Case of the Jamaican Fisherman
Designed for a first- or second-semester Anatomy & Physiology course, this directed case study involves a 48-year-old Jamaican fisherman who suffered a cerebrovascular accident.  He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for three days befor...

The Case of the Missing Bees
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the be...

The Case of the Tainted Taco Shells: General Edition
This case discusses some of the issues associated with the use of genetically modified plants, including ecological risks, resistance, and allergenicity. The case has two versions, or editions.  This edition (the "General Edition") emphasizes the ...

The Challenge of Epilepsy
This case study was originally developed for undergraduate science students as part of an extracurricular competition, but it could also be delivered as a directed case. Accordingly two versions of the activity are included. Each version requires stude...

The Coelacanth: An Odd Fish
This "clicker case" is a redesign of a case, also in our collection, by Robert H. Grant titled "A Strange Fish Indeed: The 'Discovery' of a Living Fossil." The case follows the story of Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and her discovery of the coelacanth, a ...

The Curious Case of the Carbon Copy Kitty
After the media coverage of Dolly the sheep and pet cloning, most students in a general biology or general genetics course will have heard of animal cloning, but it is also common for them to hold a number of misconceptions about the science of mammali...

The Dangers of Deicing
Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the impact of road deicing agents on amphibians living near bridges and roads treated heavily with salt duri...

The Dating Game
In this role-playing case study, students attempt to determine the identity of a variety of human fossils based on characteristics described during a “quiz show.”  The case was designed to be used in a general biology class for freshma...

The Death of Baby Pierre
This directed case study on a genetic disorder was developed for an exam on genetics for a general biology course.  The case is based on an article by scientist and author Jared Diamond titled “Founding Fathers and Mothers” that appear...

The Deep
This case study presents a fictional story in a realistic setting to teach aspects of human cardiovascular and respiratory physiology as they pertain to decompression sickness and its treatment options. Specifically, students learn about the partial pr...

The Ebola Wars: Advanced Edition
This case study was written for upper level undergraduate and graduate students to review foundational aspects of virology and to examine Ebola virus infection in detail. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as...

The Ebola Wars: General Edition
This case study introduces students to viruses and is suitable for a general biology course. Terry is a college student who travels to a West African clinic for the summer as a volunteer. While abroad, Terry comes into contact with a patient infected w...

The Ecological Footprint Dilemma
Is it better to have a new parking lot on campus or use that space to develop a community garden? This is the issue presented in this "clicker case," which pulls students into the decision-making process. Students learn about concepts related to susta...

The Evolution of Color Vision in Monkeys
This case study examines the evolution color vision in Old World and New World monkeys from multiple biological perspectives. This integrative approach employs both problem-based learning techniques and directed questions as students move through a ser...

The Evolution of Creationism
This PBL case on Intelligent Design was written for freshman biology majors at a Christian liberal arts college. Students read about the claims and actions of proponents of Intelligent Design as they work for its inclusion in the high school science cu...

The Evolution of Human Skin Color
While the concept of evolution by natural selection is very simple, it is often misunderstood by students. This is partly due to preconceptions they have as well as a lack of understanding or emphasis on the idea that reproductive success (and not surv...

The Fish Kill Mystery
In this case study, students speculate on what may have caused a major fish kill in an estuary in North Carolina. In the process, they explore how land runoff and excess nutrients affect aquatic communities, and learn about the complex life cycle of th...

The Fun in Fermentation
When covering the process of cellular respiration, advanced high school and undergraduate biology classes present fermentation as a means of anaerobic energy production in certain organisms and in muscle metabolism. Although most biology textbooks cove...

The Galapagos
Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species formation, and threats to their biodiversity in this story of a graduate student caught between local fisherme...

The Hunger Pains
In this interrupted case study, good friends Sara and Mallory discuss Sara's recent healthy weight loss and her difficulty in maintaining her desired weight. Sara recently heard about a hormone, ghrelin, and wonders if that chemical may have something ...

The Interview: Hemoglobin vs. Myoglobin
This case study examines the structure of hemoglobin and myoglobin and how the structure of these molecules dictates their function. The case is written as a play in which several candidates have responded to a help wanted ad seeking an employee with a...

The Lady of Charleston?
This case uses the real story of Dawn Langley Simmons, who may have been misidentified as male at birth, to illustrate the developmental basis of human sexual dimorphism and how gender misidentification may occur. Students also consider the emotional, ...

The Last Spruce Grove
This case study follows a drama that unfolded around a stand of Sitka spruce trees (Picea sitchensis) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The stand held significant historical and cultural significance, particularly to the local first-natio...

The Medicinal Use of Marijuana
Whether marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes has been contested for decades. The claims, counter-claims, issues, and judgments in this high profile controversy make it an excellent candidate for “intimate debate.” While simi...

The Modern Caveman’s Dilemma
During the Paleolithic era, human life expectancy was only 33 years—roughly half of what it is today. We owe our more extended lives in part to better hygiene, medicines, and more plentiful foods. Yet some people aspire to return to that earlier ...

The Molecular Origin of Life: Replication or Metabolism-First? Introductory Version
This case explores both the evidence and inconsistencies in the two major hypotheses for the origins of life on Earth: Replication-First or Metabolism-First. The case has two versions published on this website - one is written at the introductory level...

The Mona Lisa Molecule: Mysteries of DNA Unraveled
This case study details the historical discovery of the structure of DNA. Images of this key molecule are as iconic as those of the Mona Lisa, and identifying its structure has proven to be as intriguing a mystery for scientists as the reason behind Mo...

The Mystery of the Seven Deaths
In this interrupted case study, students learn about the function of cellular respiration and the electron transport chain and what happens when that function is impaired. The case is loosely based on the real-life 1982 Chicago Tylenol murders where se...

The Perilous Plight of the Pika
This interrupted case study addresses several concepts related to climate change and its effect on the American pika. Often called an indicator species for climate change, the pika has a unique set of variables specific to its environment. Factors such...

The Petition: A Global Warming Case
The goal of this dilemma case study is to teach students about global climate change.  The setting is a faculty meeting where the discussion has turned to a petition circulating in the scientific community against signing the Kyoto Treaty.  S...

The Raelians
The topics of human cloning and pseudoscience are introduced in this case through the story of Claude Vorilhon, a French auto racing journalist who makes some unusual claims regarding the influence of extraterrestrials on human history and purpose. The...

The Return of Canis lupus?
Although gray wolves once freely roamed North America, the gradual loss of their habitat from westward expansion and extermination programs led to their demise in the early 20th century. Many argue that predators such as wolves benefit a functioning ec...

The Rocky Mountain Locust
This case explores conservation and social issues associated with the destruction of vast tracts of farmland in the Great Plains in the late 1800s caused by massive swarms of the Rocky Mountain Locust, Melanoplus spretus. The case was develope...

The Sad But True Case of Earl Washington
In 1983, Earl Washington "confessed" to a violent crime that he did not commit and was sentenced to death row. After spending seventeen years in prison for something he didn't do, Earl was released in 2001 after his innocence was proven through the use...

The Secret of Popcorn Popping
Focusing on the important role of water in living cellular chemistry, this case emphasizes the general solubility rule, "like dissolves like," which explains how water can serve as a medium for transporting the cell's soluble nutrients and wastes. The ...

The Soccer Mom
Phyllis Jackson has fainted on the soccer field. She thinks she is just dehydrated, but her husband is worried. He has noticed that she has been having difficulty concentrating at work and is forgetful at times at home. At his suggestion, Phyllis goes ...

The Soccer Mom: Hebrew Translation
In this case study, translated from the original English into Hebrew, students read and interpret the signs and symptoms of a woman suffering from a neurological disorder and make a diagnosis. The case was developed for use in a one-semester animal phy...

The Spark of Life
In biology classes, students are typically taught that spontaneous generation does not take place. And yet, at the origin of life, life had to arise without parents from abiotic processes. What were those processes that gave rise to the first life?&nbs...

The Story of Dinosaur Evolution
In this case study, students write their own “evolution stories” based on information taken from a review article by Paul Sereno on the evolution of dinosaurs published in Science magazine. In the process, they learn to distinguish...

The Unfortunate Nurse
Dengue (pronounced "deng-ee") is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, usually Aedes aegypti. It is common in tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia, India, South and Central America, and Mexico. There is conc...

The Waiting Game
In this interrupted case study, students examine the cooperative courtship behavior of long-tailed manakins. Males of the long-tailed form leks, areas in which males display for females in groups. Leks in this species consist of two to 11 males, with t...

The Wolfman and the Chromosomal Basis of Heredity
This “clicker case” tells the story of Danny Gomez, a Mexican circus performer, and his family in order to teach basic principles of genetics and chromosomal inheritance. Five generations of the Gomez family suffer from a very rare disease ...

The Write Weight
Kasey is a busy undergraduate student who is struggling with her body image and wants to lose weight. To aid in this process, Kasey keeps a food and activity journal. Students review Kasey's food and exercise choices, calculate Kasey's daily caloric in...

Thomas and Sally
Did Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, have children with his slave Sally Hemings? This PowerPoint clicker case explores this controversial question as students consider the evidence for Jefferson as the father of Eston Hemings, as...

Those Old Kentucky Blues
This interrupted case study begins with the construction of a pedigree following an initial encounter with a clan of “blue people.” After constructing a pedigree, students decide whether the condition (methemoglobinemia) is a heritable trai...

Threats to Biodiversity
In this case study, students learn about introduced species and how they pose a threat to biodiversity by analyzing the impact of introduced species on the native bird populations of the Hawaiian Islands. Developed for an introductory biology course, t...

Three Cases from the Membrane Files
This PowerPoint-driven case study presents three different stories, each of which explores an aspect of membranes. The first (The Exploding Fish) covers diffusion, specifically addressing the question of why animal cells explode in freshwater but fish ...

Thyroid Troubles
In this interrupted case study, students shadow an endocrinologist as she tries to determine what is wrong with Angela Barber. Angela is a middle-aged woman presenting with symptoms suggestive of a thyroid issue. Students are given background informati...

To Spray or Not to Spray
In this case study, students grapple with the complex issues surrounding the use of DDT to control malaria in the developing world. In their examination of the issue, students consider risk/benefit analysis and the precautionary principle, two techniqu...

To the Bitter End
This interrupted case dramatizes the discovery of a Mendelian trait in humans, namely the variation in the ability to taste the chemical phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). By examining data and questions related to this trait, students will draw connections be...

To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate
The case was prompted by a newspaper story about a couple who refused on religious grounds to have their son vaccinated even though vaccination is a requirement for admission to the public schools. It explores the issues surrounding the necessity and c...

Too Many B Cells
Taylor's doctor notices she has swollen lymph nodes and an elevated white blood cell count on her routine annual exam and asks her to return for a follow-up flow cytometry test to rule out chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Students follow along as Ta...

Too Many Deer!
A town meeting is the setting for this case study in which students explore the topics of overpopulation, bioethics, and management of urban wildlife. The case makes use of role playing, small group discussion, interrupted case techniques, and critical...

Tougher Plants
This "clicker case" follows two recent college graduates as they look for scientific answers to explain why the plants on their new tomato farm are not doing well. Working with their agricultural extension agent, they explore the scientific literature ...

Tragic Choices: Autism, Measles, and the MMR Vaccine
This case explores the purported connection between vaccines in general, and the MMR vaccine specifically, and autism. Students examine results from the 1998 Lancet article that ignited and still fuels the anti-vaccine movement; students are t...

Treating Ed
Ed is dying. How should his wishes for medical treatment be carried out? As the case unfolds, students explore the rights and responsibilities of doctors, patients, and patient representatives regarding difficult medical decisions. Specifically, studen...

Trouble in Paradise
In this case study, students apply principles of evolution they have learned in class to create their own story explaining the evolutionary history of a previously unknown species of rodent discovered on an island in the West Indies. The case study is...

Tuna for Lunch?
This case examines mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the context of the human health impacts of ingesting food (specifically, fish) contaminated with mercury. It was inspired by a 2009 USGS report on mercury in fish, sediment, and wat...

Two Peas in a Pod
Based on an actual event, this case study focuses on some of the problems associated with reproductive technologies. It tells the story of the "Joneses," who after in vitro fertilization treatment, discover that their fraternal twins are less ...

Under the Knife and Completely Aware
This case study is based on a newspaper article about the suicide of Sherman Sizemore shortly after he underwent an exploratory laparotomy (abdominal surgery).  After his surgery, Sherman experienced symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disor...

Unintended Consequences of Plant Domestication on Plant-Insect Interactions
This case study investigates how plant domestication sometimes produces unintended consequences for plant-insect interactions. The narrative follows a boy in middle school, Podrick, who goes on a class field trip and notices that there are no caterpill...

Unlucky Chucky and Toxins of the Neuromuscular Junction
Signaling at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is a complex process that is required for many actions that sustain life within humans. Toxins that act upon the NMJ, both natural and synthetic, act in a variety of ways to inhibit this function. This case...

Up All Night
In this clicker case, students are introduced to George, an undergraduate student who has been experiencing some odd symptoms. His roommate convinces him to see a physician who recognizes that George's symptoms are consistent with diabetes mellitus; bu...

Uretero What?
This case study follows a woman faced with a series of difficult medical decisions. Students apply systems-level physiology as they explore a pregnancy with medical complications and discuss situations involving life-changing decisions prompted by mode...

Vikings on Mars
Three experiments carried out by the Mars Viking landers in 1976 remain, to this day, our only attempt to detect life on another planet. All other efforts have looked for the presence of elements or conditions thought to be necessary for life rather th...

Wake-Up Call
The main character of this case is Denise, who we first meet in the early morning hours as she wakes up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath. But it is her husband, Jeremy, who has been diagnosed with heart disease, not her. What’s going on? In th...

Water Can Kill?
This case study presents three true stories of people who suffered fatal hyponatremia (low sodium concentration in their body fluids) after consuming excessive amounts of water. Students examine the tonicity of the extracellular environment created by ...

We Are Not Alone
This interrupted case study for the flipped classroom introduces the human microbiome from the perspective of one of its occupants, Heidi Helicobacter (Helicobacter pylori).  Heidi lives in the gut of Kristen, a college student, and discu...

Wearing on Her Nerves
This case study is designed to integrate important aspects of the nervous and muscular system portions of an anatomy and physiology course. Students follow the story of “Kathy,” whose symptoms involve both sensory and motor components of th...

What Happened to 28 Days?
This clicker case introduces the human menstrual cycle and its associated misconceptions by following the story of Ann, a newlywed college student. Ann worries that she is pregnant and confides in her friend, Karen, a biology major. By following their ...

What Happened to Beau?
This flipped case was designed to introduce students in a general introductory biology course to basic protein structure. The two videos and interrupted case use keratins in hair as model proteins. From the videos students learn how amino acids regulat...

What is a Species?
This "clicker case" is modified from Martin Kelly's case study "As the Worm Turns: Speciation and the Apple Maggot Fly," also in our collection. Classic cases of incipient speciation such as the apple maggot fly and the hawthorn maggot fly are an excel...

What Killed Leah Miller
An Amish infant suddenly dies and law enforcement officials suspect the parents of child abuse. But experts who advocate for the parents argue that an underlying genetic disorder common among the Amish may have resulted in the baby’s death. Stude...

What Should the Victor Do with the Vanquished?
Smallpox, the worst infectious disease mankind has known, represents a major triumph as the first disease to be intentionally and completely removed from the human population. Although the disease was eradicated in 1980, the variola virus remains prese...

What's in My Water Bottle?
In this interrupted case study, two students explore evidence suggesting that environmental estrogens leach out of some plastic containers and that these chemicals have a negative impact on the development of mammals. Students analyze data, consider th...

When a Gene Turned Off Is a Matter of Life or Death
When Jordan is diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), his college plans are unexpectedly put on hold. This scenario is presented in order to teach students about gene regulation, as the efficacy of the drug Jordan receives for post-surg...

When Drug Sales and Science Collide
When "Jeff," a fictionalized drug representative, is placed on the Vioxx® account in 2001, he finds himself pulled between sales and science as he struggles to reconcile three original documents: a Merck marketing pamphlet, a graph from a scientifi...

When Good Antibodies Go Bad
This interrupted case study was designed for an upper level course in immunology where the topic of autoimmunity is discussed in detail.  The storyline follows a woman with Celiac Disease and the effects that this autoimmune disease has on her lif...

When Harry Met Gabby
This case study addresses several concepts related to water hypoxia including physical laws governing dissolved oxygen levels and impacts to living systems during hypoxia. A survey of different factors causing reduced oxygen saturation levels on small ...

When Jenn Lost Her Nerve
In many physiology classes the frog neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is presented as the classic example of a chemical synapse, but many synapses show properties that are different. For example, in many chemical synapses there is a protein transporter in t...

When Wilma Met Fred
This "clicker case" follows a professor and his students in a study abroad course in Tanzania who are searching for human fossils in an effort to better understand where humans come from. The case story, presented as a PowerPoint presentation, is compl...

When Work Makes You Sick
This case study was inspired by a real-life scenario, and follows the story of Roberto, a migrant farmworker whose health is impacted by the usage of pesticides on a farm.  With the help of a health care provider, Roberto becomes aware of the effe...

Which Came First, the Mutation or the Antibiotic?
This case study presents the story of Phil, an undergraduate majoring in biology, whose Russian cousin Dimitri has contracted tuberculosis (TB) from inmates at the prison where he works.  Phil learns that his cousin's failure to complete his antib...

Which of These is True? Validity and Ethics in Scientific Experimentation
Many biology courses are designed to develop student understanding and application of the scientific method, but few seriously examine the various ethical questions associated with scientific research. This interdisciplinary case study presents three e...

Who Killed Yew?
The purpose of this case is to teach introductory college biology students the basic process of mitosis, focusing on the fundamental cellular processes that occur during each of the stages-prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cyto...

Who Set the Moose Loose?
This “clicker case” focuses on the food web of the riparian bird communities of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystemand how community structure and productivity may be influenced by top-down mechanisms, resulting in a trophic cascade. As stude...

Why Is He Different from Both Parents?
This case study was developed to teach the topic of human ABO blood type and genetic inheritance in biology courses at the lower undergraduate level or upper high school level. It is suitable for entry level biology, genetics, and physiology courses. T...

Why is Patrick Paralyzed?
This “clicker case” introduces students to a rare genetic disease in which an enzyme is deficient in a critical metabolic pathway—the first step in aerobic respiration. Based on a real-life situation, the case challenges students to m...

Why Sex is Good
This interrupted case is based on a 2005 article in Nature written by three scientists from the Imperial College London that deals with the issue of sexual vs. asexual reproduction and their relative merits—a question that has bedeviled ...

Why Was the 1918 Influenza So Deadly?
In this intimate debate, students examine the causes of the devastation wrought by the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Students consider whether the 1918 flu was exceptionally deadly because of its biology, or whether prevalent geopolitical-socioecono...

Winning by a Neck
This interrupted case study is designed to introduce beginning biology students to the process of science by exploring a question that is accessible to students with limited scientific background. The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardialis) is the t...

Woe to That Child
Alvin’s parents are worried about him. He has had a cough for almost a week, and he’s wheezing a lot more than they think is normal for a child with a cold, which is what their family pediatrician says he has. When they take him to the ER, ...

Wrestling with Weight Loss
In this interrupted case study, a young wrestler considers purchasing 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) online as a means to drop weight quickly. However, a finding that it may have killed someone concerns him. Through progressive disclosure of information, stud...

You Are Not the Mother of Your Children
This case is based on a true story of a woman whose children were almost taken from her because her DNA profile indicated that she was not the mother of her children. The interrupted case study follows the woman, her lawyer, and a research biologist as...

You Poured it Where?
This "clicker case" focuses on the invasive aquarium strain of Caulerpa taxifolia as a way of introducing students to issues about invasive species. Specifically, students learn to identify some of the traits that make a species potentially in...

Yvette's Brave Battle
This case is based on the true story of a woman with choriocarcinoma, a rare type of rapidly dividing and metastatic cancer derived from cells of the placenta. The case begins with Yvette being admitted to a hospital due to neurological irregularities....

Zombie Attack!
Students assume the roles of CDC researchers who must determine how to most effectively stop an impending Zombie apocalypse. The story line leads students through the process of developing a mathematical model of a Zombie outbreak, which they then use ...