bioSPIRE is a student-coordinated project which facilitates access to practical experience to undergraduates by allowing them to join an ongoing project at the Department for Biological Sciences, whether in the field or at the laboratory, mentored by MSc- or PhD-students, or other personnel at the University of Bergen (UiB).
The aim of bioSPIRE is to provide an arena for undergraduates at the Department for Biological Sciences, UiB to gain practical experience in biology. The project will build a bridge between undergraduates hungry for experience, and MSc- and PhD-students eager to share their knowledge. bioSPIRE will thus create a network within the Department and among various levels of education. In addition, it will help students find their way in an ocean of educational possibilities which are available to them at the Department.
MSc- and PhD-students who submit an offer will take the role of an academic mentor, and the project will provide them with the opportunity to disseminate their field of study to possible future academic colleagues. MSc- and PhD-students will get experience in guiding and supervising someone in a work-situation, in addition to explaining their project and the importance of its individual tasks. Besides, an extra pair of helping hands in this kind of setting might be beneficial for the scope of their work and teaching outcome for the MSc- or PhD-student.
bioSPIRE also encourages other employees such as postdocs, engineers/technicians, and others to contribute with a project of their own if they feel that an undergraduate could benefit from it.
Why is it relevant for bioCEED and the Department of Biological Sciences?
One of bioCEED’s main areas of focus is integrating more practical biology in the education of biologists at UiB. Since the opening of bioCEED, undergraduates in general have been exposed to a lot more practical experience through the newly founded internship classes, but this is far from all students. The experience from bioSPIRE might thus be the gateway to such relevant studies such as BIO296 (Dissemination Project in Biology), BIO298 (Workplace Practice in Biology II) and BIO299 (Research Project in Biology). However, bioSPIRE is disparate from those courses in that the recruitment threshold is a lot lower and the time of engagement much shorter, while giving both parties valuable experience and relevant certificates.
Through bioSPIRE, more students will get the opportunity to experience field biology, outside of the classes they are enrolled in. This can induce a motivating effect, will certainly include younger students in the local scientific community, and possibly contribute to reducing dropout. The project may also increase recruitment of inhouse undergraduates for higher degrees at UiB.