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The TERC Life Sciences Initiative, a research and development program, is founded on the conviction that students can and should experience the life sciences as dynamic fields of inquiry whose diversity reflects the immense diversity of living systems. 

We believe that life science education in primary and secondary schools should take a systems biology approach across different scales, explore a range of biological phenomena and methods of investigation, and acquaint students with both qualitative and quantitative understanding.

Moreover, in an era of accelerating biodiversity loss and climate change, our work is informed by biocomplexity studies. Students should learn to understand how ecological systems involve both human and nonhuman factors, and their own roles as participants in such systems. Students are young citizens of a society facing many critical ethical, political, and economic challenges. These can only be engaged effectively by those who understand something of the nature and dynamics of the complex, human-natural systems in which we live.

The list below includes Life Science Initiative projects grouped under three areas of research and development: Biocomplexity and Ecology; Climate Change; and Curriculum and Laboratory Design.

Biocomplexity and Ecology

Climate Change

Curriculum and laboratory design

Publications and Products




Life Sciences Initiative Team

Core Staff:  Brian Drayton and Gillian Puttick, investigators; Abe Drayton, researcher

Collaborators:  Trevor Lloyd-Evans (Manomet)Prof Lisa Delissio (Salem State U)Eli Tucker-RaymondKaren Mutch-Jones, Joni Falk, TERC

Advisors: Tina Grotzer, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Richard Primack, Boston University; Amy Seidl; Abraham Miller-Rushing, National Park Service; Leona Schauble, Vanderbilt University.


For questions or comments, please contact Brian Drayton ( or Gilly Puttick (