Romi Burks, assistant professor of biology and chair of the Animal Behavior Program at Southwestern University, has been selected to participate in a national program designed to strengthen teaching and learning in the biological sciences.

BiosciEdNet (BEN) is a collaborative program managed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It provides digital resources to more than 10,028 biological science educators across the country. These resources can help engage student interest and shorten lesson preparation time.

Burks has been selected as a BEN Scholar for 2008-2010. BEN Scholars receive training in effective use of digital libraries, resources to use in their own classrooms, one-on-one mentoring and a small stipend. In return, they conduct outreach activities for biological sciences faculty members on their campuses, throughout their region, and nationally through professional societies.

The new BEN scholars will meet for training in Washington, D.C., July 9-12. After this training, each scholar will create an activity to add to BEN resources.

Burks said she applied for the BEN program because all the classes she teaches − including Biodiversity, Ecology, Invertebrate Ecology, and Animal Behavior − require the help of digital resources.

“I want to provide the most visually engaging material for my students and find resources that emphasize how the material connects to daily life,” Burks said.

For her BEN project, Burks said she plans to build a database of recent clips from movies and television shows that emphasize some aspect of biodiversity. For example, she used a segment from the television program “House” that featured nematodes in the brain to help illustrate a point for her Invertebrate Ecology course.

Burks said she hopes the knowledge she gains through the BEN program will help her provide resources for other faculty members at Southwestern.

For more information on the BEN program, visit


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