20.109(F12): Assignments

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20.109(F12): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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Lab attendance is mandatory and there are no make-up labs. A family crisis or severe illness requiring attention from the infirmary and prohibiting you from all your coursework are acceptable reasons for missing lab and every effort will be made to accommodate you in these exceptional circumstances.


You will perform three series of experiments (called “modules”) over the course of the semester. The modules differ in length and in the ways you will be assessed. For each module, you also have the opportunity to choose a concentration area for your assessments, namely

  • an oral communication concentration (shown in red)
  • a written communication concentration (shown in blue)

You will be working as pairs throughout the semester, but you will submit several of your assignments and presentations as individuals. Relevant guidelines on academic integrity from MIT policies and procedures are here and here. Please ask one of the teaching faculty if any question arises about what constitutes collaboration, plagiarism, etc.

Module Oral communication concentration Written communication concentration
totals 20% of final grade
Lab certifications (10%) Lab certifications (10%)
Online cloning lab and defense (5%) M1 ppt summary and notes (10%)
FACS data analysis and defense (5%)
totals 35% of final grade
Slides for Journal Club Presentation (10%) Slides for Journal Club Presentation (10%)
Journal Club Presentation (10%) Full Research Article (25%)
Results and Discussion (15%)
totals 25% of final grade
Written Research Pre-Proposal (10%) Written Research Pre-Proposal (10%)
Oral Presentation of Research Proposal (15%) Written Research Proposal (15%)

Some important notes

  1. You and your lab partner must choose the same concentration area for each module.
  2. We encourage but do not require that you try a different concentration for Modules 2 and 3.
  3. You are locked into your decisions for the term by the end M1D3.
  4. Late work is penalized 1/3 of a letter grade each day late.
  5. Only work turned in on time is guaranteed timely or extensive feedback.

Mod 1 assignments

Mod 2 assignments

Mod 3 assignments

All term, independent of concentration

5% Pre-lab Quiz Questions

Most lab days will start with a 3 question quiz about the content on the wiki for that day and ideas that have been covered in lecture during the module. These quizzes are NOT MEANT TO BE SUPER HARD! They are intended to keep everyone familiar with the relevant material for lab that day.
You will be assigned a day to write three questions in advance of lab, submit these questions and your answer key to the TA 24 hours in advance of lab. Your grade for lab quizzes will be the grade you receive on the quizzes you take, and the grade the TA assigns to the questions you write.

10% Lab Notebooks

These will be reviewed by the TA once each module. You will be graded on a check minus (=75%), check (=85%), check plus (=95%) scale. The requirements for your notebooks are described here. The yellow sheets of your lab notebooks must be turned in to the TA after lab on

    • M1D3: 9.18.12 (T/R lab) or 9.19.12 (W/F lab)
    • M2D3: 10.18.12 (T/R lab) or 10.19.12 (W/F lab)
    • M3D4: 11.29.12 (T/R lab) or 11.30.12 (W/F lab)

They will be returned at the start of your next lab period.

5% Reflections

Once each module you should post on the order of 250-300 words that capture your thinking as it relates to 20.109. At the end of the term, you should collect your posts into one document, re-read them all and then provide your summary reflections for the term. The link to our class blog is here, and even more details and guidance about this assignment can be found here.

  • Blog post for Module 1: Not later than Friday Oct 5th at midnight
    • possible topics
      • your impressions of the "virtual" lab work vs the "real" lab work
      • your decision to focus on oral vs written communication assignments
  • Blog post for Module 2: Not later than Wednesday Nov 7th at midnight
    • possible topics
      • major take-away lessons from your oral presentation feedback (on slides or videotape)
      • challenging/satisfying aspects of writing up your own data
      • realizations from both reading journal articles and writing articles (results/discussion or entire article)
  • Blog post for Module 3: Not later than Wed Dec 5th at midnight
    • possible topics
      • pathway to identifying your own research topics
      • challenges and benefits of working in groups vs individually
      • oral- vs written- communication concentrations: your learning, ongoing challenges, discovered strengths
  • Final Summary: Not later than Tuesday Dec 11th at 11AM

Direct links to major assignments and guidelines

General guidelines for writing up your research

General guidelines for giving scientific talks