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Non-science majors in PBIO 1210 Lab gain real-world research experiences

Dr. Barriga assisting a student in her office

Dr. Paola Barriga, Undergraduate Teaching Specialist in the Department of Plant Biology, was selected as 2023 faculty fellow  by the Biological Collections in Ecology and Evolution Network (BCEENETT). This  NSF funded network trains faculty fellows in implementing Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) that utilize natural history collections and their specimens. The network also fosters professional interactions among natural history collection professionals, data experts, researchers, and faculty fellows to bring the best research experiences into undergraduate classrooms.

Dr. Barriga is in charge of the instruction of the lab sections of PBIO 1210 (Principles of Biology, with an emphasis on plants and the importance of science in daily life) at UGA. Being selected as one of only ten 2023 faculty fellows nationwide has allowed her to expose the non-science majors in these labs to real-world research experiences. For example students used herbarium specimens from across the United States to study the range expansion of two invasive plant species, Chinese privet and musk thistle. Students gained real word experience mapping species expansion using a mapping software called QGIS. Further, students gained experience analyzing the data they collected.

In alignment with the BCEENET’s mission, Dr. Barriga’s implementation of the invasive plant species CURE enriches the educational experience of her PBIO 1210 students with real-life research applications, and it also exemplifies her commitment to instilling a profound understanding of plant biology and the scientific process in her students. As a result, the students in PBIO 1210 at UGA are afforded the unique opportunity to engage with authentic research methodologies, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

As an added benefit, the undergraduate students in PBIO 1210  can also apply to be one of 16 students nationwide that are funded to travel to the 2024 Ecological Society of America’s annual conference  to present their research.  

More information about BCEENET CUREs is available here (


Academic Professional, Plant Biology Undergraduate Teaching Specialist

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