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NDSU biology students learn about COVID-19

Jennifer Momsen, associate professor of biological sciences, changed her biology class curriculum for the next two weeks to focus on teaching students about COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. 

Students in Momsen’s general biology class will use a combination of videos from online resources, including Amoeba sisters, Crash Course, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to learn about the biology of viruses and the ecology of disease spread. The idea was planned and quickly implemented after NDSU announced last week that all classes will be delivered remotely through the rest of the spring semester.

For two weeks, the focus of Momsen’s course will be understanding COVID-19. Students will study the role mutation has played with the virus, and they’ll look at population growth models as they relate to the spread of COVID-19. 

The new curriculum – created with Lisa Montplaisir, professor of biology; Kimberly Booth, assistant professor of biology practice; and Angela Hodgson, associate professor of biology practice – also will help students learn about implications of hand-washing, social distancing and quarantine in the effort to stop spread of the virus.

Momsen said the plan is to have her students use a popular online textbook to explore how disease spreads and how behavioral modifications impact disease movement. 

“It seemed like the right thing to do – to take the news that was scaring us all and try to help unpack what it all means,” said Momsen, who began her completely online curriculum on Monday. “Hopefully, we all can get a better understanding of COVID-19 and pandemics in general.”

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