Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Nicolas Taylor
ARC Future Fellow
ARC CoE in Plant Energy Biology/School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Team members
Karina Price

Project outline

This project aims to develop a Virtual Oxidative Phopsphorylation (OxPhos) Lab to enhance student learning by allowing interactive experimentation not currently available in teaching labs at UWA due to ethical and financial restrictions. This virtual OxPhos lab will be co-developed with virtual lab simulation company Labster and it is hoped that this virtual lab will eventually be ported to a virtual reality environment.

In the late 1990s a revolutionary teaching tool, called OxPhos was developed to allow students to carry out experiments on a virtual “mitochondria”. This allowed students to directly engage in a research project during their learning and allowed them to “without fear” test the functionality and biology of this important cellular organelle. Due to limited experimental equipment, this virtual environment replaced a traditional lab that involved the harvesting of mice liver and extraction of mitochondria for assessment of mitochondrial function by a team of students. The virtual environment provided two distinct advantages, reducing the use of animals in teaching and providing the students with the opportunity to work alone which enhanced their individual learning outcomes. The lead applicant used this teaching tool until 2009 and observed how it thoroughly engaged and was highly regarded by students. Unfortunately, this virtual lab was designed for use on computers running Mac OS9 and when these were no longer available in teaching labs, the virtual mitochondrial lab had to be replaced.

OxPhos was a valuable teaching tool that has now become outdated. The goal of this project is to create a modern OxPhos teaching resource that leverages emerging technologies (360 simulation/VR) based around the historical teaching tool which has proven value to UWA teaching. This can be reintegrated into 300 level Biochemistry Lab classes and delivered as an intensive training tool in the Masters of Biotechnology core unit SCIE4001 (Lead applicant is course co-ordinator).


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