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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Janis R Fulton
MICROM 402
Seattle Campus

Fundamentals of General Microbiology Laboratory

Isolation of a broad range of nonpathogenic bacteria from natural sources, using selective and enrichment techniques, with microscopic, biochemical, and molecular identification. Related exercises include genetics, physiology, quantitation, and growth energetics. Prerequisite: BIOL 200; recommended: MICROM 410 which may be taken concurrently. Offered: ASp.

Class description

Micro 402 is a laboratory course introducing basic techniques for isolating and characterizing bacteria. Students will learn how to safely handle and manipulate bacteria by practicing sterile technique, isolating pure cultures, and identifying bacteria using various techniques. Students will exploit unique features to enrich or select for genera of selected groups of microorganisms from natural sources such as soil, water, food, and skin. Bacteria will be characterized and identified by determining their physical, metabolic and other traits.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Being a laboratory class, the students learn hands-on techniques for working with microorganisms. In order to succeed, they must master the use of the microscope and sterile technique, sharpen their powers of observation, and apply a general understanding of biological principles to bacteria. Essentially this is simple research. The student will not always find an organism or may isolate an organism other than what is sought but will have to deduce whether or not he/she has been successful. Each laboratory holds 24 students. There are typically three sections in autumn quarter and 2 sections in spring.

Instructors will give introductory comments in each lab section. Being a microbiologist (indeed, working in most labs) requires organization. Students are expected to read each day’s experiments before coming to class. This will help you to complete the lab exercises in a timely fashion and allow you to think about why each step is being carried out rather than what the next step is, as in a cookbook fashion. Microbiology is a laboratory oriented subject and therefore working with microorganisms gives one an understanding which can not be attained from lectures or reading alone. Attendance is expected. In order to keep things straight, students need to keep accurate notes about procedures, observations and conclusions.

Recommended preparation

Biology 200 is the only prerequisite course. Micro 402 was designed to be an introductory course for microbiology majors. Other biological science and biochemistry students take the course as an elective. Students who take the class are expected to have an understanding of the basic principles of biology, the structure of cells, cell metabolism, and replication. Doing well in a 400 level course also requires an understanding of the time commitment needed to learn and assimilate information, building on previous knowledge as well as incorporating accumulated knowledge into a framework of understanding

Class assignments and grading

Attendance is expected. Please contact the course instructor if you must be absent. Students will carry out laboratory exercises individually. There will be six to seven lab reports to be turned in by the student. Six or seven short answer quizzes. The final is comprehensive, is comprised of a written part and a practical part, and counts as 50% of the total grade. The written final exam is usually in a short answer format. In the practical exam, each student must perform three microbiological skills as well as be able to observe biochemical media, graphs, slides on a microscope, and other props and answer questions and draw conclusions about the information. A formal notebook to be graded as such will not be required, but in order to assimilate all the information for the comprehensive final, some sort of record, promptly recorded at the times things are done, is highly recommended.

The percentage grade and hence the numerical grade you receive will not be based on an absolute standard. The 100% level for the quarter will be set by the average grade received by the top three undergraduates in the course. Thus, if the top three undergraduates average 108 out of a total of 120 points during the quarter, then 108 points will be set as the 100% level. This step serves to adjust the exams for their difficulty. To pass the course you must achieve a 50% or greater score, i.e., 50% or more of the number used to establish the 100% level as noted above. Therefore, we have set 50% as equivalent to the lowest passing numerical grade of 0.7. The remainder of the scale rises in uniform increments. The average grade earned in the lab has typically been around a 3.0.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Janis R Fulton
Date: 09/26/2001