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20.109(F13): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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DNA Engineering        System Engineering        Biomaterials Engineering              

Welcome and Details for Fall 2013

Lecture: T/R 11-12 (16-220)
Lab: T/R 1-5 or W/F 1-5 (56-322)
People: Instructor and student web pages may be found at the linked People page.

Welcome to 20.109! For some of you this will be the first time in a research lab and for others it will not; either way, it is our goal to make this class a useful and fun introduction to experiments and techniques in biological engineering. There is not time enough to show you everything you’ll need to know if you go on to do research, but after taking this class you should feel confident and familiar with some fundamental experimental approaches and lab protocols. You will develop good habits at the bench, ones that will increase the likelihood of success in your work and ensure the health and safety of you and those around you. By the end of the semester, you should also be aware of good scientific practice, having had some experience with report writing, notebook keeping, and publicly presenting data and your ideas. All of us involved in teaching 20.109 hope you will find it a satisfying challenge and an exciting experience that has lasting value.

Orientation and Safety Material

On the first day of 20.109, you will take an interactive tour to get up to speed on the basics of working in a lab. The lab tour is linked here. You should also carefully read the general lab policy, which broadly covers dos and don'ts specific to our class.

We will spend a lot of time together this semester and get to know each other well. Everyone in the 20.109 family needs the support of their peers and instructors. If you find yourself in a situation where more guidance would be appreciated, here are a couple places to get it.

Later in the semester, you will want to read guidelines for working in the tissue culture facility. Stay tuned!

At any time you can refer the guidelines on using personal protective equipment developed by the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS) at MIT: one on eye protection (PDF download) and one on wearing lab coats (PDF download).

Finally, you can learn how to best contribute to the class wiki at the linked OWW in 20.109 page.


  • T/R digests are posted on the M1D5 Talk page along with a note that you should read. W/F folks, your gels should be posted late tomorrow or early Monday -- in the meantime, please post your colony counts. Thanks! AgiStachowiak 18:45, 28 September 2013 (EDT)
  • Reminder: Agi has office hours from 4-5 pm in 16-319 today. AgiStachowiak 16:14, 24 September 2013 (EDT)
  • Reminder: no lecture today! AgiStachowiak 09:53, 24 September 2013 (EDT)
  • All: Here are the Hallmarks of Cancer papers that Prof. Engelward spoke about on Tuesday Weinberg & Hanahan 2000 and Weinberg & Hanahan 2011. As she suggested, the first paper would be a great place to start. I will also be referring to these papers in Module 2. Shannon
  • W/F folks: Lizzie has posted your recovery gel on the M1D3 "talk" page. A couple of bands are faint, but all are clearly visible -- so you should all be good to go forward with ligations (and the FNT)! AgiStachowiak 09:11, 19 September 2013 (EDT)
  • Shannon will hold office hours on Mondays 2-3pm in 16-429b and 7-8pm in 56-322 starting 9/23/13.
  • The recovery gels for the T/R section have been posted on the M1D3 talk page. There are some notes along with them, please let me know if you have any questions! Shannon
  • A few minor changes have been made to the M1D3 protocol - please update your notebooks if you have already started preparing them. (See the wiki "history" page to highlight changes if you like. All four sections have some changes.) AgiStachowiak 11:41, 16 September 2013 (EDT)
  • The wording of the M1D1 FNT, problem #2, has been clarified.
  • A few minor changes have been made to the digestion section of the M1D2 protocol - please update your notebooks if you have already started preparing them. (See the wiki "history" page to highlight changes if you like.) Also, we will be posting an updated map of pCX-NNX sometime before our next class, so keep an eye out tomorrow to see that you are using the right version. Here we are, really starting our first research project together! AgiStachowiak 16:24, 11 September 2013 (EDT)
  • You can find old announcements here