During the first class, students will be assigned an article on the topic of microbial biotechnology. Before our 6th session, each student will write a brief summary of the experimental design the authors of the paper chose and discuss if the experiments were sufficient to support the claims of the authors. The students should propose an experiment or two that could have been carried out to further test the claims of the authors, including any controls. Instructors are available to meet with students to discuss their papers and their write up prior to the due date.
Before the final class meeting, students will select on their own a current news article that discusses a study in a field of biotechnological research related to our course material. Students will then obtain the primary research paper on which the news article was based. In class, students will discuss both the news and primary literature articles in a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation (10–15 slides) to be given on the final day. The presentation should briefly summarize the news article and the research paper and critically evaluate the data, use of controls, and authors' conclusions. The presentation should also include a discussion about how the data were presented to non-scientists in the news article and simplifications that were made to make the topic easier to understand. The oral presentation should trigger a lively discussion involving the entire group led by the student presenting the manuscript. The instructors will briefly discuss the expectations for this assignment in class and will be available to meet with students to discuss their presentation prior to the due date.