Program for Research in Immunology and Microbiology Education (PRIME)

Program for Research in Immunology and Microbiology Education (PRIME) LogoEducation researchers within the Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology department teamed up to form the Program for Research in Immunology and Microbiology Education (PRIME) group.

Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) is the study of undergraduate and graduate learning and teaching in a discipline within Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) informed by research on human learning and cognition, including Education Research. The National Research Council (2012) defines DBER as “an empirical approach to investigating learning and teaching that is informed by an expert understanding of [STEM] disciplinary knowledge and practice”. DBER faculty are not housed in education departments who are focused on levels K-12, but rather in the departments closely related to the topics they teach.

The PRIME group is uniquely positioned to run DBER studies, using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, in the disciplines of microbiology, immunology, pathology, and biomedical sciences.  Within these disciplines, the PRIME researchers (or “PRIMErs”) investigate student and trainee learning, skills and expertise development, science communication, metacognition and ways to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The PRIME group is dedicated to developing and disseminating effective evidence-based approaches to better undergraduate and graduate education within the fields of microbiology, immunology and pathology.

Monthly PRIME meetings provide opportunities for gathering feedback from education researchers on project development, presentations, grants and more. Please reach out to Justine Liepkalns to learn more.


Current Grants

Kelp Lab

(2023-2028) Rockies and High Plains Vector-Borne Diseases Center, co-PIs: Brian Foy (CSU) and Natalie Marzec (CDPHE), Co-Is: Rebekah Kading (CSU), Elizabeth Hemming-Schroeder (CSU), Greg Ebel (CSU), Nicole Kelp (CSU), Karla Saavedra-Rodriguez (CSU), Ary Faraji (SLC Mosquito Abatement), Chris Roundy (CDPHE), JR McMillan (Texas Tech), Corey Brelsfoard (Texas Tech), HHS-CDC. 

(2022-2025), NSF BCSER: Examining inclusive science communication education as a tool to empower historically disadvantaged STEM students 

(2021-2023) Stop the Spread: Community-Engaged Education to Address Misinformation around Pandemic Disease, PI: Ashley Anderson, co-PIs: Colleen Duncan, Nicole Kelp, Anschutz Foundation,. 

(2023-2024) Assessment and improvement of STEM students’ skills in communicating about the scientific uncertainty involved in emerging infectious diseases, PI: Nicole Kelp, CVMBS CRC Science Pedagogy Grant. 

(2021-2022) Examining varied interventions to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM by facilitating undergraduate student professional development, PI: Nicole Kelp, Co-PIs: Grace Borlee, Jennifer McLean, Carolina Mehaffy, CVMBS CRC. 

Mehaffy Lab

(2023) Collage Research Council (CRC) project grant to study students’ perceptions of active learning practices. 

Suchman Lab

(2020), CVMBS Instructional Innovation Award.  Creating Retrieval practice Activities (online quizzes) for VMBS100. 

(2019), Open Educational Academy Grant, to create an open access textbook for virology. 


Choi S, Anderson A, Cagle S, Long M, Kelp NC. (2023). Scientists’ deficit perception of the public impedes their behavioral intentions to correct misinformation. PLoS One, 18(8): e0287870.  

Alderfer S, Murphy K, McMillan R, Kelp NC. (2023). Inclusive Science Communication training for first-year STEM students promotes their identity and self-efficacy as scientists and science communicators. Frontiers in Education, 8:1173661.  

Pisano A, Alderfer S, Levinger N, Kelp NC. (2023). Inclusive Science Writing about Socioscientific Issues for Diverse Audiences. Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments, 7(2):1-8.  

Murphy KM, Kelp NC. (2023). Undergraduate STEM students’ science communication skills, science identity, and science self-efficacy influence their motivations and behaviors in STEM community engagement. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, e00182-22. 

Kelp NC, McCartney M, Sarvary MA, Shaffer J, Wolyniak MJ. (2023). Developing Science Literacy in Students and Society: Theory, Research, and Practice. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, e00058-23. 

Kelp NC, Borlee G, Mehaffy C. (2023). A Career Preparation Course for Microbiology Majors that Facilitates the Growth of Historically Marginalized Students. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, e00238-22. 

Kelp NC, Witt J, Sivakumar G. (2022). To vaccinate or not? The role played by uncertainty communication on public understanding and behavior regarding COVID-19. Science Communication, 44(2):223-239. 

Vickery R, Murphy K, McMillan R, Alderfer S, Donkoh J, Kelp NC. (2023). Analysis of inclusivity of science communication training being provided to scientists and STEM students. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 22(1). 

Pisano A, Crawford A, Huffman H, Graham B, Kelp NC. (2021). Development and validation of a Universal Science Writing Rubric that is applicable to diverse genres of science writing. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 22(3):e00189-21. 

Moorleghen D., Oli N., Crowe A., Liepkalns J., Self C., Doherty J.. (2019) “Impact of Automated Response Systems on In-Class Cell Phone Use.” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. 

Suchman, E.L, McLean J., Hanao, M., Popichack, K. (2019) 3D printed models for understanding cloning. Thingiverse Education. 

Hines, S,A., M.C. Barr, E. Suchman, M. Fahie, D. Hendrickson, P. Chappell, J.L. Watson, P.F. Mixter (2019) An Inter-Institutional External Peer Review Process to Evaluate Educators at Schools of Veterinary Medicine. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. DOI: 10.3138/jvme.2019-0094. 

Suchman, E.L., J. McLean, S.T. Denham, D. Shatila, David Prowel.  (2018) Modeling Antibody-epitope Interactions with 3D printed Kits in Large or Small Lecture courses. Human Anatomy Physiology Society, Educator. Vol 22:1, 73-78. 

Grogan, K., Lee, T. and Liepkalns J. (2017) “Making evolution stick: using sticky notes to teach the mechanisms of evolutionary change.” Evolution: Education and Outreach. 10:11. – Thomas Henry Huxley Award. 

Kogan, L.R., P. Hellyer, R. Clapp, E. Suchman, J. McLean, R Shoenfeld-Tacher.  (2017) The use of short Animal-Themed Videos to Enhance Veterinary Students’ Mood, Attention and Understanding of Pharmacology Lectures. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education Vol 45:2. DOI: 10.3138/jvme.1016-162r.

Suchman, E.L, R. Knodle & McLean, J. (2016) ASM Sample Questions In Microbiology. ASM publishing Washington DC, Print ISBN : 9781555819903, DOI: 10.1128/9781555819903.  

McLean, J., Suchman, E.L. (2016) Using Magnets and Classroom Flipping to Promote Student Engagement and Learning about Protein Translation in a Large Microbiology Class. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. vol. 17 no. 2 288-289. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i2.1048. 

Suchman, E.L. (2015)  The Use of On-Line Pre-Lab Assessments Compared with Written Pre-Lab Assignments Requiring Experimental Result Prediction Shows No Difference in Student Performance. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. 16(2) 266-268. 

Suchman, E.L. (2015) Encouraging Microbiology Students To Think Like Scientists.  Microbe. 10(2) 1-5. 

Kaiser, G., Suchman E.L. (2014) Transformation animation.  The American Society for Microbiology, MicrobeLibrary, 1752 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804.

Kaiser, G., Suchman E.L. (2014)  Generalized Transduction animation.  The American Society for Microbiology, MicrobeLibrary, 1752 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804.  

Suchman, E.L. (2014) Changing academic culture to improve undergraduate STEM education. Trends in Microbiology. 22(12) 657-659. 

Suchman, E.L, R. Knodle. (2014)  Student Learning Assessments in Microbiology Database, 34 Tier 2 Critical thinking questions accepted. The American Society for Microbiology, MicrobeLibrary, 1752 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804.

Kaiser, G., Suchman E.L. (2013)  Conjugation animation. The American Society for Microbiology, MicrobeLibrary, 1752 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804.

Suchman, E.L. and students of MIP400G, MIP 303 honors, Colorado State University Service Learning Course (2013), Micro Lessons Macro Impact.

Suchman, E.L. (2012) Critical Thinking Question Database, 15 accepted. The American Society for Microbiology, MicrobeLibrary, 1752 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2804.



Valdez C (Kelp Lab), Undergraduate STEM Students’ Perspectives on Inclusive Pedagogy in STEM Classrooms, X-DBER Conference.

Kelp NC, Identifying factors influencing STEM students’ science communication and public engagement activities, X-DBER Conference. 

Kelp NC, Alderfer S, McMillan R, Murphy K, Examining inclusive science communication training as a tool to support historically disadvantaged STEM students, SABER West Annual Conference.

Liepkalns J, Concept-Based Learning in Immunology & Microbiology (CLIMb): A Reasoning Framework for Immunology Concepts needed for the Understanding of Vaccine Immunotherapies, Brown Bag Psychology Seminar Series. (Invited Talk)


McMillan R (Kelp Lab), Analysis of Inclusivity of Published Science Communication Curricula for Scientists and STEM Students, UNL SciCommCon Conference.

Kelp NC, Examining Inclusive Science Communication Training as a Tool to Support Historically Disadvantaged STEM Students, UNL SciCommCon Conference.

Kelp NC, Mixter P, Mathiason C, Coward P, Equipping students’ science literacy/communication skills for career preparedness, ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators.

Kelp NC, Mixter P, Cagle S, Wessner D, Equipping students’ science writing skills, ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators.

Suchman E, My journey with flipping my classroom in Medical and Molecular Virology. Rocky Mountain Virology. Oct. 1. CSU Mountain Campus.


Kelp NC, Development and validation of a Universal Science Writing Rubric in order to facilitate assessment of STEM students in science communication competencies, Regional Teaching Academy Biennial Meeting.

Suchman E and Mixter P, Documenting Your Teaching for Promotion and/or Tenure (Professional Development for Instructors). Conference for Undergraduate Educators, American Society for Microbiology.

Suchman E, Folkestad J, McLean J, Popichak K, U-Behavior: Learning and Teaching Method, transforming student behavior. American Society for Microbiology, Conference for Undergraduate Educators.

Suchman E, Mechanisms for the evaluation of teaching effectiveness developed by the Regional Teaching Academy of the Western Consortium of Veterinary Medicine. Committee on Teaching and Learning, Colorado State University. (Invited Talk)


Liepkalns J. et al. Undergraduate Immunology fundamental statements and skills: Development of undergraduate curriculum guidelines for teaching immunology using Vision and Change as a framework. Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER). Virtual. (Poster Presentation)

Suchman E, The use of synchronous Zoom meetings to facilitate active learning in an on-line upper division virology course, lessons learned, CVMBS Master Teacher Initiative. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, How to write test questions that test what you feel is important and encourage your students to move past memorization. The Institute for Learning and Teaching, CSU. (Invited Talk)


Popichak K (presented by Suchman E), A Classroom Activity Designed to Facilitate More Active Learning of Genetic Cloning. Speaker, American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators. (Also workshop developed for 2020 but canceled due to COVID Pandemic)

Liepkalns J, Undergraduate Immunology Course Curriculum: a Novel Wholistic Approach with Student-Centered Pedagogies. Center for Teaching and Learning Symposium, University of Washington. (Poster Presentation)

Liepkalns J, From no lab to patenting: Developing an Ebola detection method with undergraduate students through social entrepreneurship. Emory University. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, Using learning management system usage data to help students improve engagement practices: lessons learned at Colorado State University. American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, Tyson VA.

Suchman E, What We Learned at CSU Using Learning Management System Usage Data That Can Be Used To Help Students Improve Engagement Practices. Regional Teaching Academy of the Western Consortium of Veterinary Medicine Biannual Conference.

Suchman E, Writing Learning Outcomes. Washington State University. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, Creating effective assessments. Washington State University. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, Mixter P. How to effectively demonstrate your contributions to teaching and learning for promotion and tenure. Washington State University. (Invited Talk)


Suchman E, Understanding the Importance of the First 4 Weeks to Undergraduate Performance. TILT Summer Teaching Conference, CSU.

Suchman E, Undergraduate Research Experiences: Models in CVMBS and Opportunities for Funding. MTI workshop, CVMBS, CSU.


Suchman E, What’s new in Teaching? Rocky Mountain Virology. CSU Mountain Campus.

Suchman E, Regional Teaching Academy’s materials for improving and evaluating teaching. MTI workshop, CVMBS, CSU.

Suchman E, 3D models of antigens and epitopes for teaching. ASMCUE, Denver CO.

Suchman E, Using clickers to increase student engagement in undergraduate microbiology courses, RTA Meeting, Fort Collins CO.

Suchman E, 3D models of antigens and epitopes for teaching. RTA Meeting, Fort Collins CO.

Suchman E, Regional Teaching Academy’s teaching evaluation process. RTA Meeting, Fort Collins CO.

Liepkalns J,  Shorter S. Discussing the future: Including a career panel discussion in a graduate program seminar series. Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) Conference, Tucson, AZ. (Poster Presentation)


Liepkalns J. Strengthening Success in Undergraduate and Graduate students. Oregon State University. (Invited Talk)

McLean J, Suchman E, Online quizzing to augment student learning. American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, Bethesda MD.

Suchman E, Teaching students to think like scientists in large lecture courses. Marquette University Milwaukee WI. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, Writing effective assessments. Speaker. TITL Summer Workshop, CSU.

Suchman E, Evaluating Teaching effectiveness. College of Agricultural Sciences, CSU. (Invited Talk)

Suchman E, Doing it all, teaching well while doing research and service. MSO Graduate Student Career Workshop, CSU. (Invited Talk)


 Liepkalns, J.S. (2023) Vaccines and Immunotherapies Explained. Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Suchman, E.L. (2020)  Medical and Molecular Virology. OpenSource.


Grace Borlee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

The Borlee lab interests include imposter phenomenon, enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion within microbiology, and exploring the facets of CURE lab experiences.

Medora Huseby, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Nicole Kelp. Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

The Kelp lab does research on science communication, at the intersection of DBER in science communication (SciComm) as well as public health communication about emerging infectious diseases.

Justine Liepkalns, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

The Liepkalns lab studies ways to narrow undergraduate student opportunity gaps while developing tools to support effective ways to enhance student learning, such as identifying the steps students take towards mastery of concept-based reasoning.

Jennifer McLean, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

The McLean lab is focused on developing and assessing effective active learning experiences in the classroom and online in MIP 300 General Microbiology.

Carolina Mehaffy, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

The Mehaffy lab is interested in studying factors, such as students' scientific identity and self-efficacy in CUREs, that increase success in all students, particularly those of historically marginalized communities in STEM.

Katriana Popichak, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

The Popichak lab research interests include student engagement, building community, and use of podcasts and Virtual Reality (VR) in education.

Erica Suchman, Ph.D.

University Distinguished Teaching Scholar

The Suchman lab researches interventions that help students modify their learning behaviors both online and in-person for enhanced learning outcomes.