Theme-Based Biology Labs

Theme-Based Biology labs offer Biology undergraduates the opportunity to do research with a small group of students.  Under the guidance of a Biology faculty member, the students will conduct research together on a defined project.  Students will register in BIOL 4905, and receive course credit.  Pre-requisite: Completion of BIOL 3810 with a grade of C or better.  For more information, or to find out how to register, please contact either the instructor of the course, or the Undergraduate Director at


Theme-Based Biology labs offered in Fall 2016

Molecular Parasitology

Molecular Parasitology provides an avenue for students to grapple with challenges and frustrations of “real-world” research in the Biology department’s newest, instructional research laboratory, the Collaborative Learning Lab. This laboratory experience is structured as a problem-based learning environment where students take the primary role in discovery. This Spring we are seeking to identify novel mitochondrial proteins of trypanosomatid parasites. We work with Crithidia fasiculcata, a unicellular relative of the human parasites Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania. Each student researcher selects an uncharacterized protein and develops a project to clone and express this protein as a GFP-fusion. Participants develop technical and professional and critical thinking skills necessary for primary research through a variety of exercises including journal clubs, bioinformatic analysis, proposal writing, and subcloning of genes.

Credit hours: 4     Class time:  MW 8:45-11:45AM     Instructor: Dr. Paul Ulrich


Molecular Microbial Metagenomics

Metagenomics is broadly defined as the culture-independent investigation of the collective genome of an ecological niche. This course ‘Molecular Microbial Metagenomics’ is research project-based, and it provides tools for studying microbial diversity, identifying new species, and isolating novel genes from archaea and bacteria. It uses a metagenomics DNA library containing 80,000 clones prepared from soil DNA. To accomplish the goals of the course, students begin by PCR amplification of novel 16S rRNA genes from the pools of library clones using universal primer sequences. 16S sequences serve as anchors for identification of clones containing bacterial or archaeal sequences as well as provide a measurable indicator of diversity. PCR amplification is followed by sequence analysis of the amplified products and bioinformatics to determine if these sequences are novel and phylogenetic analysis to determine their evolutionary relationships to the previously known gene sequences. During this 14-week course, students in this course gain conceptual knowledge of microbial diversity, develop critical thinking skills, and obtain hands-on research experience in molecular metagenomics. They learn to culture the library clones, isolate DNA from pools of clones, design primers, set up PCR reactions, run and analyze DNA gels, isolate the amplified 16S product from the gels, and carry out nucleotide sequence analysis and bioinformatics and phylogenetic analysis. Microorganisms form the foundation of Earth’s biosphere and control many biogeochemical processes, therefore understanding microbial diversity and the nature of communities is important for the environment, biotechnology, harnessing energy, and human health.

Credit hours: 3     Class time: MW  10:00AM – 12:30PM        Instructor:  Dr. Parjit Kaur


Laboratory Techniques in Neuroscience

Laboratory techniques in neuroscience including extracellular electrophysiology, computational methods, molecular and cellular neuroscience, immunocytochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, and neuroethology.

Credit hours: 4    Class time:  TR 2:00-5:00PM   Instructor:  Dr. Manfred Schmidt