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Wellesley College-BISC 209 Microbiology -Spring 2013

Welcome to Microbiology Spring 2013

Lecture: Room S264
Day/Time: Monday and Thursday at 11:10 am

Professor: Vanja Klepac-Ceraj

Laboratory Instructors: Vanja Klepac-Ceraj and Janet McDonough
Lab Prep: Sherly Veeraragavan

Labs: L302- Tues. 12:30-4 Instructor: McDonough; Wed. 2:15-5:45 Instructor: Klepac-Ceraj

ENTRY SURVEY: Please complete a brief entry survey found at BEFORE you attend your first lab. It should take less than 5 minutes. The survey will be open through 2/6/2013.

GOALS: The labs for BISC 209, Microbiology, are designed to familiarize you with how research investigation in microbiology is designed, performed, analyzed, and communicated. Over the course of the semester, you will explore the richness and diversity of environmental microbes and explore their impact in their community. Your instructor does not know what's in the specimen you will collect; therefore, the successful outcome of the project is in your hands alone. You will learn to work as a microbiologist, to perform the experiments properly, to keep good records of your results, and to articulate the findings and conclusions from your work, both orally and in written reports.

One of the focuses of the lab component of BISC209 is learning the structure of scientific writing through writing a scientific style research paper on this semester long project. Writing the paper could be overwhelmingly difficult without the series of skill-building assignments that we have designed. These weekly assignments are worth few points towards your overall lab grade, but they are crucially important in giving you practice and feedback on the structure of science writing and, specifically, on content aspects of your final paper. Please make sure that you follow directions and give sufficient time and attention to the graded assignments this semester. Your hard work during the semester should make your final paper much easier to write and should reward you with a more accomplished and successful final product.

There is an extensive handout about writing each section of a scientific research report found in the Resources section of this wiki under "Guidelines to Scientific Writing" and other helpful information can be found in the Science Writing folder of the Resources tool in Sakai. In addition, please feel free to meet with your instructor to discuss any aspect of this or other assignments that is confusing to you. Struggling with scientific writing is expected and, unfortunately, necessary to achieve the proficiency desired; however, we do not want that struggle to turn into frustration. Please seek help from your instructor or from one of the Science Writing Peer-Mentors. More information on how to schedule a meeting with a writing tutor can be found at:

These are ambitious goals for an introductory microbiology course. Since this course only has one prerequisite, BISC110, we expect that some of you will come into the course with extensive experience in cellular biology and research investigation, while others will have had little related experience or course work. Our goal is for everyone to end the course equally comfortable and facile with the tools and techniques of investigative microbiology.


1. Please familiarize yourself in advance with the exercise(s) to be performed. Before coming to lab each week:

  1. Read each exercise and any accompanying technical material carefully.
  2. Record accurate and detailed descriptions of your investigation and your results following the guidelines for maintaining your notebook provided in Resources. Please print these guidelines and paste them at the end of your lab notebook.
  3. Draw or take photographs of all of your microscopic findings. In making drawings, do not attempt to draw everything in the microscopic field; simply select a few representative specimens (e.g. a few cells), highlighting whatever is relevant, such as their arrangements or sub-structures. Be sure to label everything clearly: include the total magnification, how the specimen was processed, and give the goal of the procedure.
  4. In your lab notebook, use the right pages to outline or create a flow chart of any experimental procedures to be performed clearly stating your objectives and/or goals. Leave the left pages blank for additional comments and thoughts.
  5. Please keep your lab notebook up to date and be prepared to show it to your instructor at any time.

2. Your instructor will give preliminary instructions and/or demonstrations at the beginning of each lab. Do not attempt to start work before receiving instructions. Please make sure that you understand the purpose and execution of each part of the investigation and ask any clarifying questions before getting to work.

3. Creating a slide collection is helpful in multi-week projects. Save a representative slide in your slide box after any staining or microscopic analysis. Make sure all your slides are properly labeled.


Make up of laboratory work in another lab section is not possible.

All late assignments must be submitted within a week. All late work is subject to a penalty of 5% per day late and is not accepted for point credit after one week. Although lab assignments contribute only 1/3 of the points for your course grade (200 out of 600), you MUST pass (acquire at least 60% of the total possible lab points) to receive course credit.
Good luck