“Digital Experimental Evolution Project”
“Microbial Evolution” (OEB 192), Fall 2011, Christopher Marx, Harvard University
For my course in Microbial Evolution I have students develop an experimental evolution project on their laptops using the ‘Avida-ED’ interface developed by Charles Ofria, Rob Pennock and colleagues. The goal of the project is to have students design and implement their own experiment to explore the role of population size, mutation rate, selective history, etc., upon evolutionary phenomena such as adaptation and tradeoffs. By having students submit a proposal for their work, a first written draft, a short presentation to the class, and then a revised draft they also learn key steps in the scientific process and how results are communicated. It is lots of work, but it has been a course favorite each of the 11 times I have taught such a course.