Cross-departmental Collaboration Builds Job Skills at ACC

Are you looking for a college that will give you real world, unique experiences working not only cross-departmentally, but also with other colleges? ACC takes pride in giving our students the opportunity to learn in a multitude of ways, thus increasing their job skills and their confidence in those skills.

One recent project allowed biology students to work with the University of Denver and our own multimedia, graphic design and illustration students to create work that was both scientifically and visually compelling.

Dr. Nia Bauer, ACC Biology Faculty:

To increase scientific literacy, problem solving skills, student interest and success in STEM courses, ACC Biology students are being exposed to a real-world hands-on research experience. Engaging students in a meaningful research experience early in their academic careers can have lasting implications for both initial student success and long-term development of a community of innovative, problem solving citizens.

Through a partnership with Randall Cohrs, Ph.D., Department of Neurology at the University of Denver, ACC BIO 111 students are working on a research project to map possible promoter regions in the Varicella Zoster Virus DNA, responsible for Chickenpox and Shingles.  These regions will help researchers understand how the virus become activated and latent (deactivated). Ultimately, this information could lead to the design of treatment for chickenpox and shingles.

I believe that this is where education is going, away from canned labs to more open-ended projects that allow students to understand how science is really done.  Since we did things a bit ‘differently’ this year in BIO 111 labs, I was looking for a way to visually represent the project that was more engaging than just words in a lab.  This is why I asked Tom to help fulfill this vision and his class did an outstanding job!

Tom DeMoulin, ACC Multimedia, Graphic Design and Illustration Department Chair:

A cross-department faculty collaboration between the Biology and Multimedia/Graphic Design departments provided advanced opportunities for students in both departments last semester.

In the fall of 2015, Biology 111 students were to embark on an undergraduate research project in collaboration with a University of Denver researcher.  This ongoing work allows ACC students to map the Varicella Zoster Virus DNA, responsible for Chickenpox and Shingles, looking specifically for regions that activate and de-activate the virus. Dr. Bauer wanted a visually dynamic tool to engage BIO 111 students from the outset. Nia reached out to me and my students to create a unique, animated introduction to the process. 

My Motion Graphics class, MGD 143, took up the challenge as I incorporated this project into the course’s curriculum for a month of the term. Acting as both the client and technical advisor, Dr. Bauer was interviewed on multiple occasions by the Motion Graphics class to ensure both technical accuracy and her satisfaction with the project’s direction. The five-minute animation was delivered on time in a relatively short turnaround of five weeks and has subsequently been used in multiple sections of General Biology 111.

View the video of this project on ACC’s YouTube Channel.