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Research in the Biological Sciences (RIBS)

Program Directors

Dr. Christopher Schonbaum is a senior lecturer in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago, where he teaches labs in cell biology, genetics, and developmental biology. He has research experience in the development and molecular genetics of Drosophila (fruit fly) and C. elegans (nematode).

Dr. Rosemary Zaragoza is a lecturer with the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division and teaches Drugs Galore, Pharmacological Perspectives, the laboratory for the PreMed biology sequence (BIOS 20170-20174) and RIBS. The Drugs Galore and Pharmacological Perspectives courses cover molecular, cellular, and organ basics and incorporates the mechanism of action of drugs at the molecular, cellular and organ levels. The premed Microbial and Human Cell Biology (BIOS 20170) labs include lab, microscopy, and microbiology basics as well as fetal pig dissection and tissue histology. The Human Genetics and Developmental Biology (BIOS 20171) labs include genetic analysis of microorganisms using DNA extraction, PCR amplification, and agarose gel analysis. Dr. Zaragoza has had the pleasure of working with RIBS students since the summer of 2007.

Dr. Schonbaum likes teaching RIBS (as Research in the Biological Sciences is known) "because it provides an opportunity to work with a group of talented students who can focus on biology for a month without having to worry about exams or other distractions (except perhaps the late-night soccer games)." RIBS students spend seven to eight hours a day in lab for four weeks. If one word can summarize the RIBS experience, it would be intensive. This intensity, however, is what makes RIBS so uniquely rewarding. Dr. Schonbaum explains: "Unlike most lab courses that students perform in high school or even in college, where labs are offered in two-to-three hour parcels once a week, RIBS immerses the student in four uninterrupted weeks of science. The students carry out more complicated experiments not feasible in the typical short lab period. The continuity gives students a chance to see how ideas are tested by a series of experiments rather than by the performance of a single, isolated exercise. RIBS also gives the students an opportunity to design experiments and to follow up on the results of their experiments. RIBS students are challenged to both work and learn, are trusted with expensive equipment, and are expected to work closely with others. RIBS is not for everyone. You need to love (or at least like!) science and be willing to spend a summer month in a lab. For people who want to learn biology hands-on rather than from a textbook, however, RIBS is a dream come true. All day we think about biology and do laboratory work. We do this with a lab full of others who share our interest in biology; we get to know each other as well as we get to know the science. And the students get to know themselves better too: Do they love biological research like they thought they would? Do they successfully work in a group as is done in laboratory science? Can they rise to the challenge of presenting their work?"

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