The Mathematics in Life Sciences (MLS) program was an NSF-initiative at the University of Missouri, starting in August 2009 and ending in August 2015. Its goals were to integrate mathematics more intimately in the beginning undergraduate natural science curriculum and to encourage students to choose STEM majors. Its major activities were establishment of a 20-student freshman interest group (FIG) for freshman natural science majors, including a special MLS biology majors lab that substitutes for the regular lab part of our beginning biology majors course; and a summer undergraduate mentored research program in the summer following the students’ freshman year.
The MLS lab consists of a number of investigational modules intended to engage students actively in learning, and to connect multiple threads of biology and simple mathematics within a coherent intellectual framework. The flagship module, spanning 11 2-hour sessions, is a yeast fluctuation test. An article in American Biology Teacher describes a 5-session version of this module, and is accompanied by an instructor’s manual and several teaching materials. Materials for the full 11-session module and other modules will be made available on the Teaching page in the main menu.