Step 1: Innovations in Biology and Technology – Finding Information Sources and Outline
Choose one of the provided topics (see list below, a-e).
Search the library and/or the internet to locate 3 reliable information sources that you may use for this assignment. The purpose of this step is to get the research process started; you are not required to use these information sources in the final version of your assignment.
- Write 1-2 sentences for each information source explaining why you believe these sources are reliable using what you learned.
- Create an outline for the writing assignment. The outline should be in a bullet list format and include the major topics that you plan to include in your assignment, with some supportive detail for each topic. It should not be a draft with full sentences and paragraphs. Here are two resources that may be helpful as you write your outline:
- Topic Choices: Select a topic from one of the five topic choices (a-e) listed below.
Your paper MUST be about one of these topics:
a) Vaccines. Your friend is worried about the many vaccines that his newborn son is scheduled to receive and asks you for advice since you are taking a biology course. Start with an explanation of how vaccines work. Briefly contrast the traditional methods used to create vaccines with more recently used biotechnology techniques, including the COVID 19 mRNA vaccines. Explain how the mRNA vaccines work based on your knowledge of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. What are some of the diseases that infants and children in the US are routinely vaccinated against? How have vaccinations impacted the frequency of these diseases over the past 100 years? Why are some people worried about giving their children vaccines? Why do some people believe that the MRR vaccine can cause autism? Is there scientific evidence to support these concerns? Conclude with advice to your friend in regard to getting the recommended vaccines based on what you learned from reliable information sources.
b) Personal Genomics. Services like 23andMe and Ancestry have made it possible – even popular – for the average person to obtain in-depth information about their genome, including details like food allergies, drug sensitivities, and disease risks. There are even add-on sites that will take this information and generate elaborate reports, such as Promethease. Describe how this data is obtained, and what it actually includes. Start your explanation with a basic description of DNA and how genes control our traits (the Central Dogma). Use information from the course readings, at least one service provider (e.g., 23&Me, Ancestry), and additional information resources. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this easy, rapid, and affordable access to genomic data? What are the social implications, in terms of benefits and risks? Is Genome Privacy (restricting access to an individual’s private genomic data) a potential issue, and if so, how? If you, or someone you know, have had your own genome analyzed, discuss the thought process that led you (or them) to do so, and share how you felt when you found your results. If you haven’t, discuss why or why you would not want to have this information.
c) Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) has been the most recent breakthrough discovery in bioengineering that enables scientists to edit DNA. Because you have studied biology in this course, you have volunteered at your niece’s Middle School Science Club to monitor a student debate about CRISPR. The students will be watching the following video before the discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=252&v=2pp17E4E-O8. You need to be prepared in case there are any questions. Please research and write an answer to each of the following questions: What is “CRISPR”? What role does Cas9 play in the CRISPR process? How does the CRISPR-Cas9 system snip and replace any DNA sequence? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of gene editing? Include specific examples. Do you believe that the inherent risks of modifying DNA are worth the rewards? Explain. Do you believe that it is ethical to genetically engineer animals and humans? Explain.
d) Bioprinting. Your father has been on a waitlist for a new kidney for several years, but no match has been found. You hear about bioprinting on the news and decide to do some research so you can tell him about it. Start with an explanation of what bioprinting is, and how the process works. Relate it to what you have learned about cells, tissues, and organs. What are the benefits of bioprinting? What are the current challenges? What are stem cells and how can they be used for bioprinting? What is bioink and how is it used for bioprinting? Include a least two examples of current research in this field, and conclude with predictions for the future. Finally, do you believe that your father could benefit from this technology in his lifetime?
e) Human-caused global climate change is the biggest environmental challenge we are faced with today. Your aunt is a climate skeptic and you have decided to use your understanding of science to explain to her why the earth’s climate is changing, describe the major biological effects of climate change, and discuss how technology can be a solution to this problem. You should start with a brief description of the greenhouse effect and how carbon dioxide is a natural part of the carbon cycle. Then explain how our use of fossil fuels is disrupting the carbon cycle and enhancing the greenhouse effect. You may want to look ahead to the Week 7 readings for this information. What are the major ecological effects associated with climate change? What are the human health concerns associated with climate change? Describe at least one example of each. And finally, what can we do to reduce our impact on the climate through technological innovation? Include a description of a minimum of two technological solutions.