The Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant and Soils across Kansas (MAPS) collaborative course started last week for undergraduate and graduate students from across Kansas enrolled. Biology 890d at KSU and Biology 701 at KU make up this educational collaboration that is specifically designed to study the structure and functions of microbiomes. Every Tuesday and Thursday, students and professors from the University of Kansas (KU), Kansas State University (KSU), Wichita State University (WSU) and Fort Hays State University (FHSU) meet in a common area on their campus to participate in a ZOOM video conference learning experience. The goal of the class is to review existing information on linkages between and feed backs among plant, soil and freshwater microbiomes. The lead Instructors Walter Dodds, from KSU, and Jim Bever, from KU, plan to facilitate an in depth review of existing literature on this rapidly expanding area of research. Each member of the Kansas EPSCoR MAPS research team has a role in presenting their research and assigning key papers for students to read as part of the effort to achieve this goal. Using what they learn from the faculty presentations and class discussions, students will then prepare individual reports and lead discussions on key papers that reflect their area of interest. The final product from the class will be a publication-quality review manuscript to be submitted following the course. All students who have continued participation on the manuscript will be listed as co-authors.
Education and outreach funding is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: "Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas." The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.