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Ohio Wesleyan Professors Co-Author Article in BioScience Journal
Publication Outlines Benefits of Collaborative Research by Undergraduate Colleges

May 19, 2011

Ohio Wesleyan University Professor of Zoology Amy Downing, Ph.D., (left) and Professor of Botany and Microbiology Laurie Anderson, Ph.D., (right) co-authored a journal article with faculty from other universities in the May issue of BioScience.
Photo by Linda O’Horo
DELAWARE, OH – Ohio Wesleyan University botany-microbiology professor Laurie Anderson, Ph.D., and zoology professor Amy Downing, Ph.D., are among the co-authors of an article in the May issue of BioScience journal that demonstrates the value of institutions joining forces to conduct research.

Anderson, Downing, and 10 other faculty members from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) wrote the article, which highlights several collaborative research endeavors, including the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) project lead by Anderson. The five-year project involves 12 colleges and universities, and was funded in 2010 by a $494,980 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Objectives of the EREN include:

  • Developing collaborative research projects that focus on regional to continental-scale ecological issues.
  • Engaging students in authentic science while teaching them basic ecology.
  • Creating a continental-scale ecology course module that will be team-taught by scientist-educators from the participating institutions.
  • Establishing an online database of collaborative data sets collected during the project.

“This type of network could overcome many of the challenges and criticisms of research programs at PUIs by producing meaningful research while simultaneously training a new generation of undergraduates in collaborative research with limited time, money, and institutional resources,” the article states.

Such research benefits undergraduate students by enabling them to fill research positions normally available only to graduate students at research institutions. It also allows faculty to train and work closely with the undergraduate students on research methods—a practice that often leads to co-authored, peer-reviewed publications of their joint findings and discoveries. Data from local research programs can be shared, combined with, or compared with data from other institutions, which can lead to the creation of interactive teaching modules while saving travel costs.

BioScience is a peer-reviewed journal published monthly by the Reston, V.A.-based American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Read the article in its entirety.


Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 45 states and 52 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.