Iowa Turtle Army

Undergraduate Research Internships: Discovery-based learning opportunities 

ITA fieldThe ITA provides an opportunity to Integrate undergraduate discovery-based learning through a service-learning activity that helps immerse biology undergraduates into the field and lab modules of the research projects conducted by the Valenzuela lab at Iowa State University.

ITA interns learn about environmental and evolutionary genomics; field, experimental and developmental biology; herpetology, and evolutionary ecology.ITA lab

The ITA combines service experience with academic learning and reflection by recruiting members via ISU’s various majors (e.g. Biology, Genetics, Animal Ecology), summer programs, or independently.

Additional ITA participants have come from ISU's Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), George Washington Carver Internship Program (GWC), or as independent interns during the summer or academic semesters for research credit or not.

ITA interns disseminate their research via publications and presentations (PDF)

Teacher Summer Internships: Discovery-based professional and curricular development 

Teachers carry out research and develop curricular material 

RET2023The ITA also provides opportunity for K-12 teachers to participate in summer internships on animal research, through a collaboration with the BioRETs program from the Biotechnology Office at ISU.

This internship enables teachers to share the latest scientific advances with their K-12 grade pupils to inspire them to love and pursue science. Teachers develop curricular material to be used by them in their classroom as well as by other K-12 teachers at peer institutions.

K-12 Curricular Material 

The following curricular material was developed by K-12 teachers during summer internships with the ITA. It is intended that this material be shared for their use by peer teachers and institutions. Credit should be given to the authors of the material and the funding sources that enable their development. Funding was provided in part by supplements IOS-0826664, IOS-0924290, and IOS-0924290 to NSF grant IOS 0743284, and grants IOS-0809547, MCB-0815354, MCB-1244355, IOS-1555999, and IOS-2127995 to Nicole Valenzuela.

Gene McClugage, Science Teacher, Ames Middle School, Ames, Iowa

Gene McClugageGene McClugage's Population Genetics Poster (PDF)

Karen Catron, 1st Grade Teacher, Lovejoy Elementary School, Des Moines, Iowa

Karen CatronKaren's Turtle Biology Poster (PDF)

Karen's Turtle Biology Unit (PDF)

Tanya Manternach, Hempstead High School Teacher, Dubuque, Iowa

Tanya ManternachTanya's Genomics Poster (PDF)

Tanya's DNA Unit (PDF)

Tanya's Gene Expression Unit (PDF)

Tracy Pearson, High School Teacher, Lawton-Bronson CSD, Lawton, Iowa

Tracy PearsonTracy's Developmental Biology Poster (PDF)


Heather Sweers, Middle School Science Teacher, Woodside Middle School, Des Moines, Iowa.

Heather Sweers  Heather Sweers RET 2023 Poster (PDF)