Denise G Anderson
Laboratory course emphasizing concepts and techniques/methodologies in recombinant DNA research employing bacteria and their viruses. Topics and experiments/demonstrations include genomic and plasmid DNA isolation, restriction mapping, cloning, transposon mutagenesis, sequencing, and Western and Southern blotting. No auditors. Prerequisite: either BIOL 200, BIOL 201, or MICROM 301. Offered: W.
The course teaches the theory and practical applications of modern molecular biology techniques. In the lab, students get hands-on experience using restriction enzymes, isolating plasmid and phage DNA, separating DNA/separating proteins using gel electorphoresis and making/transforming competent cells. Students use these basic skills to do experiments involving cloning, transposon mutagenesis, PCR, Southern blotting and immunoblotting.
The laboratory component of the course meets for three hours twice a week. Students work in pairs doing the experiments. During lab, the instructor routinely circulates to give students one-on-one feedback with respect to their observations, understanding of material and conclusions. Due to the nature of the experiments/techniques, there are many short incubations during which time students can work on assignments or read reference material available in the lab. In addition to the scheduled laboratory time, students attend weekly lectures which introduce the theory and practical applications of each technique. Lectures are generally given by graduate students from the Microbiology department who regularly use molecular biology techniques in their laboratory research.
Students should have a solid background in basic biology, particularly with respect to DNA/RNA/protein, and an understanding of the time commitment needed to learn and apply complex information. Many incoming students have had previous microbiology courses, including labs. Students who donít have a microbiology background can still succeed but will need to make an extra effort to learn basic techniques used in working with bacteria.
Class Assignments and Grading
Students are expected to prepare in advance for each lab by reading the lab manual and making a rough mental plan of how to proceed with the dayís scheduled activities. During lab, students are expected to keep a detailed, current lab notebook that documents each experiment in a manner that would enable someone else to successfully repeat the work. The lab notebooks will be graded twice during the quarter; because notebooks should always be current, the turn-in date will not be announced.
Students are required to attend one scientific seminar and read one scientific journal as well as write a one paragraph summary of each. Students are also required to use the library or a computer database to find toxicity data on at least one toxic chemical commonly used in molecular biology lab work.
Weekly take-home problem sets are given to exercise and test studentsí problem solving skills in preparation for the exams. Students who independently complete all problem sets generally find they are well prepared for the exams. Two midterms and one final will be given. These will be primarily in a short answer and problem solving format.
Grades are based primarily on the performance on two midterms (25% each) and the final exam (40%). The remaining 10% of the grade reflects the laboratory notebook scores. Final grades are calculated by first determining the average total score of the top 3 undergraduate students. That number is then used as the 100% by which grades are calculated.