Research Link 2000 Institute

NSF-funded project of the Council on Undergraduate Research

Call for Participation

Ferris State University
Big Rapids, MI

August 12-15, 2000

Fast Plants

Research Link 2000 is an NSF-funded project of the Council on Undergraduate Research to promote the introduction of research-based experiments in introductory biology courses, and to further research activities by students and faculty on all levels of the undergraduate curriculum.

We invite faculty members to participate in an institute that will teach them how to use three of the major systems that were developed for this project—FAST PLANTS, C-FERN, AND YEAST.  The purpose of the institute is to assist faculty who are interested in using these systems to initiate a research-based curriculum, and to establish a foundation for an undergraduate research program.  Those chosen to participate will have most of their on-site expenses paid by a grant to CUR from the National Science Foundation.

Biology departments that adopt a single research system as the core of a research-based curriculum will derive many benefits.  Faculty will be able to collaborative on their research efforts, equipment costs will be reduced, lab courses will have a common research-based core, and students will become better prepared for advanced research studies due to their prior experience with the system. 

Approximately forty-five faculty will invited to the institute based on geographical location, nature of the institution (community college, public/private, etc), and written proposals outlining how they plan to establish the research systems at their home institutions.  Lodging, meals during the meeting, and most on-site meeting expenses and lab supply costs will be covered for all participants.  Travel and other expenses are the responsibility of the participants.  There will be a modest registration fee of $55.00.

The Research Link 2000 website ( describes ten experimental systems and research-based lab experiments (LabCore) that can be easily implemented in an undergraduate laboratory, along with references, techniques and sources for securing stock cultures and equipment.  Faculty and undergraduate students can share data, discuss results, and explore and discover connections in related laboratory experiments via bulletin boards (LabLink).

How to Make Application

Faculty who are interested in learning the techniques and methods of the Fast Plants, C-Fern or Yeast systems are invited to submit an application to the attention of Jim Hoerter, Research Link 2000 Project Coordinator by June 1, 2000.  Early applications are encouraged.   Submission via email ( is preferred. Registration is limited to 45 participants.  Applications may also be faxed or mailed to: Research Link 2000 Institute, Jim Hoerter, Dept. Biological Sciences, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI  49307.  Voice 231-591-2550; FAX 231-591-2540.

Research Systems

·         Yeast--an excellent organism for genetic research. Yeast experiments offer easy and economical growth, a short generation time, hundreds of interesting mutants, an easily manipulated complete sexual cycle, simple equipment requirements (petri plates and toothpicks), and even a pleasant smell. Baker's Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) has become the most studied single-cell eukaryotic organism. Consequently, one can easily demonstrate a wide range of genetic and physiological processes with yeast, including response to environmental factors such as radiation and hazardous chemicals. One result of yeast's unique qualities as a genetic organism is that it was selected as the first eukaryotic organism to have its genome completely mapped.

·         C-Fern--a specially derived strain of the tropical homosporous fern, Ceratopteris richardii, offers a dynamic approach to teaching many basic aspects of plant biology using hands-on and inquiry approaches. C-Fern gametophytes develop rapidly and are easy to culture. All phases of gametophyte growth and differentiation, fertilization and early embryo development can be easily observed using low power microscopy. Extended culture and observations of the sporophyte phase can also be carried out. Large numbers of individuals can be cultured in a very small space, allowing students to work with populations and to obtain large data sets (e.g., growth rate, germination rate, population sex ratio) during a two-week culture period. A wide variety of mutant strains are available ranging from striking visual types like polka dot to developmental mutants and types resistant to environmental stresses from agents such as herbicides and salt.

·         Fast Plants-- Wisconsin Fast Plants are rapid-cycling brassicas that are members of the cabbage and mustard family (Cruciferea). They have been developed through 15 years of selective breeding to be used by teachers, students, and scientists in their classrooms and laboratories as living models for study.  Fast Plants have a life cycle of 35-40 days (seed to seed) and can be grown in the classroom under continuous fluorescent light. The basic stock will grow to be about 15 cm high at maturity. Fast Plants are available in a wide variety of easily recognized phenotypes. Fast Plants can be used for examining the expression and inheritance patterns for both discrete and continuously variable traits.  Students will engage in phenotypic linkage mapping of various traits of their choice selected from the Fast Plant stock inventory. Data generated by students will serve as the basis for the building of a phenotypic linkage map for Brassica rapa.

Application Form

Email this application to



Name of participant





Describe (less than one page) your current undergraduate research programs on campus, and plans to do one or more of the following:  (a) utilize Research Link 2000 to establish an undergraduate research program, (2) move toward a research-based lab curriculum or (3) expand existing undergraduate research opportunities.  Participants will be asked to prepare a poster for the institute outlining their ideas/accomplishments in the area of undergraduate research and/or plans for incorporating research-based labs in introductory biology courses.






Please place in order of preference, the research systems (fast plants, yeast or C-fern) that you would most like to establish at your institution.  Each participant will be able to learn two of the three systems.








Members of the Research Link 2000 Project Team are: Lisa Baird, University of San Diego; Sibdas Ghosh, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Jim Hoerter (Project Coordinator), Ferris State University; Kipp Kruse, Eastern Illinois University; and Michael Tannenbaum, Marist College; Elaine Hoagland (CUR Liaison), CUR National Office

More information about the Research Link 2000 Project can be found at the projects web site (  More information about the Council on Undergraduate Research can be found at